A general view shows the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio on Tuesday.—Reuters
A general view shows the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio on Tuesday.—Reuters

NAIROBI: Mauritian volunteers fished dead eels from oily waters on Tuesday as they tried to clean up damage to the Indian Ocean island’s most pristine beaches after a Japanese bulk carrier leaked an estimated 1,000 tonnes of oil.

The ship, MV Wakashio, owned by Nagashiki Shipping and operated by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd, struck a coral reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25, and began leaking oil last week, raising fears of a major ecological crisis.

Activists said that dead eels were floating in the water and dead starfish washed in the sticky black liquid. Crabs and seabirds are also dying.

“We don’t know what may happen further with the boat, it may crack more,” said clean up volunteer Yvan Luckhun.

MV Wakashio still holds over 2,000 tonnes of oil and it is expected to eventually break up

The MV Wakashio is still holding some 2,000 tonnes of oil and it is expected to eventually break up, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said late on Monday, warning that the country must brace for the worst.

Tourism is a key part of the Mauritius economy and the government, which has declared a state of emergency due to the spill, is working with former colonial ruler France to try to remove the oil.

The spill has set back two decades worth of restoring the natural wildlife and plants in the lagoon, which started after the government banned sand harvesting in the area back in 2000, said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, a non-governmental organisation.

The fragmentation of the oil in the sea is expected to damage corals when the heavier particles in the oil settle on them, he said, adding that the steps taken by the government to prevent the disaster are also being scrutinised.

“There is some anger and some criticism from the civil society that the government may have taken too much time to respond,” he said. The ship was grounded for nearly two weeks before it started leaking oil.

There was no immediate comment from Mauritian government officials.

Mitsui OSK Lines said in statement: “We will do our utmost towards resolving the situation quickly.” It did not provide any details.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2020

Opinion

Misplaced anger at poor show
24 Jan 2021

Misplaced anger at poor show

In the UK, when a party is elected to office after being in the opposition, its leader takes over as prime minister seamlessly.

Editorial

Updated 24 Jan 2021

Delayed olive branch

THE PTI government has finally mustered up sufficient political prudence to extend an olive branch to the opposition...
24 Jan 2021

Bureaucracy reform

WHILE the intention behind the endeavour may be lauded, the civil service reform package unveiled by the government...
24 Jan 2021

Minority rights

ON Thursday, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to safeguard religious sites around the world,...
23 Jan 2021

Power price hike

ALREADY struggling to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and rising food prices, consumers received yet...
Updated 23 Jan 2021

Israeli land grab

WITH the chapter now closed on the Trump presidency, the eyes of many in the international community — ...
23 Jan 2021

New PhD policy

EARLIER in the week, the HEC chairman announced several changes for undergraduate and PhD degrees in the country....