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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 August 26 - September 1  > Gov’t should offer more support to deal with oil spill in Mauritius
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2020 August 26 - September 1 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Gov’t should offer more support to deal with oil spill in Mauritius

August 27, 2020

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

One month has passed since a Japanese cargo ship became stranded off the coast of Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean.

Around 1,000 tons of fuel oil have spilled into the sea. Although 460 tons of the leaked oil and 3,000 tons of the remaining oil in the damaged ship were recovered, the 30 kilometers of the island’s southeastern coast were badly contaminated, according to reports. The oil also crept into nearby mangrove forests where a wide variety of shellfish, fish, and birds inhabit. The oil spill is also a threat to the island’s world-renowned wetlands which is under the protection of the Ramsar Convention. It is also feared that the body of the ship, which has yet to be removed from the site, is crushing coral reefs.

The Mauritian government declared a state of environmental emergency immediately after confirming the oil spill and its environment minister appealed to the international community for technical support and the dispatch of experts by saying that the country is facing an unprecedent ecosystem crisis.

Reportedly, it will take years for the natural environment to recover from the damage.

Mauritius, a nature-rich country with a population of 1.27 million, depends on tourism for much of its income. The oil spill is yet another severe blow to the country’s tourism industry which had been already hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Fishermen will inevitably face difficulties as well.

Environmental and economic damage affecting Mauritians should not be left unaddressed. It is necessary to check to see whether the country will be able to receive sufficient compensation under the current framework based on relevant treaties and international agreements.

The Japanese government has dispatched a rescue team to the country. However, its response was very slow given that France and other countries launched their operations much quicker. Tokyo should allocate more staff and resources to rescue efforts. Japan has a bad reputation as an eco-unfriendly nation as shown by the fact that it was urged by the United Nations Secretary General to overcome its “addiction to coal”. The latest incident will most likely put Japan in a more difficult position. As the accident was caused by a Japanese ship, Japan should fulfill its responsibility for and play a meaningful role in support activities.

Past related article:
> Gov’t should make all-out effort in response to Mauritius oil spill accident involving Japanese ship: JCP Kokuta [August 20, 2020]
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