State of environmental emergency declared in Mauritius after stranded ship leaked oil

(Image credits: @PKJugnauth)

New Delhi (NVI): The island nation of Mauritius has recently declared a “state of environmental emergency” after a vessel that ran aground offshore began leaking oil into the ocean.

Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announced the development as satellite images showed a dark slick spreading in the turquoise waters near environmental areas that the government called ‘very sensitive’.

The Japanese bulk carrier – MV Wakashio – ran aground on a coral reef off the Indian Ocean island on July 25 and its crew was evacuated. But the large bulk carrier has since begun leaking tons of fuel into the surrounding waters.

Mauritius said the ship was carrying nearly 4,000 tons of fuel and cracks have appeared in its hull.

Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier and is creating an ecological disaster, endangering corals, fish and other marine life around the Indian Ocean island, according to media reports.

MV Wakashio is currently lying at Pointe d’Esny, in an area of wetlands near a marine park.

PM Jugnauth said that his government has appealed to France for help, saying the spill ‘represents a danger’ for the country of some 1.3 million people that relies heavily on tourism and has been hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our country doesn’t have the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships, so I have appealed for help from France,” he said.

“Thousands of species around the pristine lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg are at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius’ economy, food security and health,” Greenpeace said in a statement.