By O. Lotufo
On the 25th of July, a Japanese-owned ship named the M V Wakashio caused an oil spill of around 1,000 tones into the Indian Ocean, near southeast Mauritius, when it ran aground on a coral reef close to the coast. Whilst the amount of oil leaked is relatively low compared to other recent oil spills around the world, the location of this accident is the main concern; the oil spill occurred near two marine ecosystem reserves, thus has the potential to cause substantial environmental impacts. Blue-green waters, which were once Mauritius main appeal and touristic attraction, are now stained black and brown and the biodiversity has already been greatly affected.
Fortunately, there was a quick and proactive response to the oil leakage. Mauritius' Government declared a state of environmental emergency and called for help; many countries, including France, the United Kingdom and Japan, and the United Nations, sent multiple ecologists and workers to try to prevent the oil from reaching the coastline. Furthermore, Mauritians have also been able to successfully make 80km of ocean booms, floating barriers used to contain oil spills, just two days after the accident; it is believed that 75% of the spilled oil was removed effectively.
However, the ecological impacts have been significant:
Even with the carrier ship not being linked to Mauritius in any way, they are the ones paying for the accident and will continue to suffer for years on end. With many working day and night trying to decrease the potential impact the oil spill may, and has, caused, all that is left to do is hope for the best.