Read

“Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty." 

- Albert Einstein

Another Oil Spill Threatens Ecosystems in Mauritius

Kate Byng-Hall reports on local outrage as an oil spill contaminates the beautiful ocean around Mauritius.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop


100,000 Mauritians out of the country’s 1.27 million-strong population have protested in the capital, St Louis, after an oil spill off the south-east coast which threatens the island’s rich wildlife. 


The march is an encouraging development in environmental consciousness in the country, as protestors chanted the slogan, “citoyen leve citoyen” (citizens wake up citizens).

In late-July, the Japanese-owned ship the MV Wakashio was shipwrecked at Pointe d'Esny in Mauritius, a small island in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar.  A fortnight later on the 6th of August, the ship’s hull split, leading to over 1000 tons of oil spilling into the ocean.  Protestors have criticised the Mauritian government for not intervening and preventing the spill in that two-week period, with some calling for officials to resign or even for the government to dissolve altogether.


An Ecological Goldmine

The oil spill occurred close to some of the most ecologically diverse areas in Mauritius – protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park reserve. Thankfully, the oil narrowly avoided the reserve, but the wreck ended up lodged on a coral reef, damaging the coral and creating a bank of debris which will limit its growth.


The UN Convention on Biological Diversity has found that the environment around the island is home to 1700 species, including 800 types of fish, 17 kinds of marine mammals and two species of turtles.  These could be threatened not just by the oil itself, but by the toxic particles it will leave behind.

Oil contains soluble compounds which dissolve in water, and will have settled on the seabed after the spill.  As Professor Richard Steiner, an international oil spill adviser and marine biologist explains, “the toxic hydrocarbons released from spilled oil will bleach the coral reefs and they will eventually die”.

We are a start up charity. You can support us with our mission to help people #stayinformed by joining us today from just £1pm.


This is a major concern due to the importance of reefs in the area.  Around 25% of all fish in the ocean depend on them for survival, as does the island’s tourism industry, which attracts around 1.3 million visitors in a typical year.  However, the toxic particles contaminating the sea after the spill will kill a lot of the coral, as well as crustaceans and molluscs, because they are filter feeders, and thus will ingest the toxins when eating. 


As Professor Steiner says, “the impact is likely to remain for years”.


The immediate effects of the spill are already apparent, as the bodies of 39 dolphins have washed up on Mauritius’ shores since the spill.  Several others have been found struggling in the slick.  It was these deaths which enraged locals to the point of protest.


The Clean-Up Begins 


Teams from the UN, France, Japan and the UK have united in a huge clean-up effort since the spill.  Helicopters have been used to transport oil out of the ship to prevent further leakage, and booms (structures to stop oil spreading) have been widely implemented.  Locals have also been proactive, making 80km-worth of makeshift booms themselves out of   cane trash – the leftovers from sugar-cane production.  So far, 75% of the oil has been contained or removed.  

Tragically, a tugboat helping to clear oil capsized after colliding with a barge it was towing, leading to three out of their crew of eight dying, with one still missing after four were rescued.  It just goes to show the lengths which citizens will go to, to try and save the marvels of their country.

While, in comparison to others, this oil spill is small, it is the huge ecological significance of the area in which it occurred which is so worrying.  Hopefully the popular protests in the country will force the government to invest in a thorough clean-up mission to save Mauritius’ remarkable environmental wonders from a disaster of human making.


You may also like: Oil Spill in Northern Russia Threatens Arctic

We are a socio-ethical impact initiative advocating for topics that matter, whilst supporting wider planetary change and acknowledgement. To support our work and journalism, consider becoming an advocate from just £1.


About

We strive to inspire socio-ethical impact and acknowledgement. Advocating for topics that matter. Stay informed by following us today.

 

Covering sustainability, climate change, environmental, nature, health, nutrition, mental health, mindfulness, sentience, science and ethical consciousness.

Why

In recent times, we have faced challenges unlike any in recorded human history, and as a collective are now faced with humanity's cumulative mistakes inherited from many generations.

The time for change is now. It is now time to acknowledge and adapt to a better, fairer and more sustainable way of living.

Founder | Ellis Jackson

Editor | Kate Byng-Hall

Based in

Powered by ethical advocates        |

  • Twitter
  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White LinkedIn Icon

We strive to inspire socio-ethical impact and acknowledgement.

Photo by Marina Vitale

Read. Listen. Advocate.

The Truprint Group ©

27 Old Gloucester Street, London, United Kingdom, WC1N 3AX 

Created by Tru. ©

Terms of Use & Privacy Policy

Company Number: 11188091

Terms, Conditions and Policies.

  • White Spotify Icon
  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White LinkedIn Icon
  • White Pinterest Icon

Tru.

We are a project and trademark of The Truprint Group a Community Interest Company | CIC.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2017-2020