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Sea life around Mauritius dying as Japanese ship oil spill spreads

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Sea life around Mauritius dying as Japanese ship oil spill spreads

By Duncan Miriri

 

2020-08-11T190911Z_2_LYNXNPEG7A1IZ_RTROPTP_4_MAURITIUS-ENVIRONMENT.JPG

A drone image shows the oil spillage near the area where the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, ran aground on a reef, at Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, August 11, 2020. REUTERS/Reuben Pillay

 

NAIROBI (Reuters) - 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 told Reuters that dead eels were floating in the water and dead starfish were marked by 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.

 

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 leading part of the Mauritius economy. The government, which declared an emergency on Friday 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.

 

A Japanese bulk carrier that struck a coral reef off Mauritius and has leaked at least an estimated 1,000 tonnes of oil passed an annual inspection in March without any problems, Japan's ClassNK inspection body said on Tuesday. Edward Baran reports

 

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," Tatayah said. The ship was grounded for nearly two weeks before it started leaking oil.

 

There was no immediate comment from Mauritian government officials.

 

The Wakashio passed an annual inspection in March without any problems, Japan's ClassNK inspection body said.

 

Mitsui OSK Lines said in statement: "We will do our utmost towards resolving the situation quickly." It did not provide any details. The company said it has sent six employees to the site and was considering sending more, along with transport supplies.

 

The International Maritime Organization said it had joined efforts to tackle the spill by providing technical advice and coordinating the response. U.N. agencies and other international groups were also mobilising environmental and oil spill experts.

 

(Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo and Jonathan Saul in London; Editing by Sandra Maler, William Maclean)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-08-12
 
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They sent 4 employees???? Were is the tugs barges salvaging crews to remove the remaining oil? That is a vlcc class ship I suspect a lot more oil than 2,000 tons 

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2 hours ago, webfact said:

The company said it has sent six employees to the site and was considering sending more, along with transport supplies.

Bloody pathetic response, they have sent 6 employees, wow thats BIG of them.

A marine disaster and those responsible are doing sod all.

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An inflammatory post and reply has been removed.  

 

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23 hours ago, colinneil said:

 

Bloody pathetic response, they have sent 6 employees, wow thats BIG of them.

A marine disaster and those responsible are doing sod all.

Col you know I know once money is involved things are not important anymore. Just like this "Red Bull" situation here. We use to have a saying. Tell me sir "What language does money not talk"  They dont care because it is not off the coast of Japan

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