By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK (IDN) – An Indian Ocean island nation, beloved for its sandy beaches, pristine lagoons and reefs, its tropical climate and its multi-ethnic population, has become another world treasure soiled by the relentless trade in oil, shipped by tankers, unsafe at any speed.
The ship that ran aground off the shores of Mauritius began spilling oil into the country’s famed blue lagoons this week, setting off an environmental crisis in a tiny island nation that relies on its waters for fishing, food and tourism.
It was the second major spill globally this year but one that may leave its mark for decades – as has the BP Deepwater Horizon of 2010 which is still harming wildlife, especially dolphins –- in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Marine Mammal Foundation.
This year’s earlier spill took place May 29, when an oil tank collapsed in northern Siberia, polluting about 180,000 square meters.
Supertanker freight rates have been skyrocketing in recent months – from $90,000 daily to $180,000 a day – as producers, refiners and traders scramble to secure ships to transport crude or store a fast-growing global glut of oil, industry sources said. Desperation to secure transport may have led some oil producers to consider unseaworthy large crude-oil carriers.
The Wakashio, a Japanese-owned and Panama-flagged bulk carrier, had been carrying 4,000 tons of fuel oil and 200 tons of diesel on board when a crack in the hull began to leak its dirty cargo.
The ship ran aground at Pointe d’Esny, a known sanctuary for rare wildlife. The area also contains wetlands designated as a site of international importance by the Ramsar convention on wetlands.
Happy Khamule from Greenpeace Africa warned that “thousands” of animal species were “at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius’ economy, food security and health”. The country is also home to world-renowned coral reefs
The Republic of Mauritius, 1,200 miles off the eastern coast of Africa, is part of the African continent geographically, and makes up Africa’s small island nations together with Comoros and Seychelles, according to the WorldAtlas. It is a member of the African Union and the Commonwealth of Nations.
The French took control of Mauritius in 1715, renaming it Isle de France.
In a news conference, Akihiko Ono, executive vice president of Mitsui OSK Lines “profusely” apologized for the spill and vowed that the company would do “everything in their power to resolve the issue”. w/picture of Mauritius oil clean-up. [IDN-InDepthNews – 11 August 2020].
Photo: Mauritius Declares Environmental Emergency After Massive Oil Spill, Credit: India.com
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