Mauritius in environmental emergency as Japanese ship spills oil off it’s coast

He has appealed France to extend help.

Credit : Pravind Jugnauth
Mauritius on Friday declared the state of emergency following a major oil leak from a ship. Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said they did not have "the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships." He appealed France to extend help, said a BBC report.

France has promised help while the shipowner said they were trying to combat the spill. MV Wakashio collided onto a coral reef off Mauritius on July 25. Its crew was evacuated.

The cargo ship has since been leaking tonnes of fuel into the waters. The French island of Reunion is located near Mauritius. Home to world-famous coral reefs and tourism support Mauritius economy.

"When biodiversity is in peril, there is [an] urgency to act," said French President Emmanuel Macron in a tweet. "France is there. Alongside the people of Mauritius. You can count on our support dear Jugnauth," he added.
According to BBC, the French embassy in Mauritius issued a statement saying a military aircraft from the French island would carry pollution control equipment to Mauritius.

"Thousands" of animal species were "at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius' economy, food security and health", said Happy Khambule of Greenpeace Africa.

The Japanese ship registered in Panama had no cargo but was carrying around 4,000 tonnes of fuel aboard.

MV Wakashio is currently located at Pointe d'Esny near a marine park. The ship's owner Nagashiki Shipping issued a statement, which stated: "due to the bad weather and constant pounding over the past few days, the starboard side bunker tank of the vessel has been breached and an amount of fuel oil has escaped into the sea".

"Oil prevention measures are in place and an oil boom has been deployed around the vessel," it stated.

Nagashiki Shipping said it "takes its environmental responsibilities extremely seriously and will take every effort with partner agencies and contractors to protect the marine environment and prevent further pollution".

Earlier, the Mauritius environment ministry said rough seas made attempts to stabilise the vessel and to pump out the oil impossible.

"This is the first time that we are faced with a catastrophe of this kind, and we are insufficiently equipped to handle this problem," said Fishing Minister Sudheer Maudhoo. The police were investigating the incidents.