During a joint press conference on Thursday, Mauritius Minister of Environment Kavydass Ramano announced an environmental disaster due to an oil leak from a bulk carrier that ran aground two miles off the Mauritius coast on 25 July. 

According to Bloomberg, the bulk was travelling to Brazil from China, carrying more than 200 tonnes of diesel and about 3,800 tonnes of bunker fuel.

Kavydass Ramano told the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation that the Government has already safely evacuated the crew, and the priority now is to save the environment while preventing the fuel from reaching the nearby beaches and lagoons.

“A command post has been set up to closely monitor the situation, and additional sea booms are being used since the detection of cracks in the ship hull,” Kavydass Ramano said. He also added that the Government is seeking help from neighbouring countries. 

The spill clean-up action

An environmental services company Polyeco, the National Coast Guard, alongside the French island of Reunion and volunteers, are already trying to clean up the spill to contain the leakage.

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Since early Thursday morning, several teams have been attempting to remove the tons of oil, but more help and resources are needed. “This is the first time we are faced with a catastrophe of this kind, and we are insufficiently equipped to handle this problem,” Fishing Minister Sudheer Maudhoo told Al Jazeera.

Mauritius natural beauty

“The country is facing an unprecedented environmental situation as the vessel has grounded in a very sensitive zone which includes the Blue Bay Marine Park, Iles aux Aigrettes, and the Ramsar sites,” Kavydass Ramano said.

The Mauritius Ramsar Convention sites are designated as Wetlands of International Importance. Blue Bay Marine Park has a coral garden with a 1,000-year-old brain coral and is listed as one of the three Mauritius Ramsar Convention sites.

The island of Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, is a renowned tourist destination, famous not only for coral reefs but also for its variety of fish and sandy beaches.

Since the current oil leak, the Ministry of Environment urges the public, including boat operators and fishers, “not to venture on the beach and in the lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg.”

Featured Image Credit: @Ariel_Saramandi/Twitter

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