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Mauritius: MV Wakashio Oil Spill - Aug 2020

On 25 July 2020, a bulk carrier vessel, MV Wakashio, ran aground on the reef of Point d’Esny, off the coast of Mauritius. The vessel was carrying nearly 4,200 metric tons (MT) of fuel, including low-sulphur fuel oil (3,894 MT), diesel (207 MT) and lubricant oil (90 MT). The ship is located near ecologically sensitive and important areas, including the Point d’Esny Wetlands, Ile aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve, Blue Bay Marine Area, Mahebourg Fishing Reserves, barachois (coastal lagoons) and mangroves. The Point d’Esny Wetlands are designated as a site of international importance under the Convention on Wetlands (‘Ramsar Convention’). The Nagashiki Shipping Co. Ltd, which owns and manages the vessel, told media in an emailed statement that “due to bad weather and constant pounding over the past few days, the starboard side bunker tanker has been breached and an amount of fuel oil has escaped into the sea.” Preliminary satellite analysis conducted by UNOSAT found that the shipwreck location was approximately 2 kilometres from the shore at Point d’Esny and that 0.23km2 oil spill was observed by 6 August. Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has declared a “state of environmental emergency” and said that the sinking of the boat “represents a danger” for the people of Mauritius. The country’s approximately 1.3 million inhabitants rely heavily on tourism, which has already been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. ([OCHA, 8 Aug 2020]( Cracks on the hull of MV Wakashio have continued to worsen and there remains a high likelihood that the bulk carrier will break-up. There are also concerns regarding the impact the oil spill will have on Mauritius’ unique ecosystems, including Blue Bay Marine Park, Pointe d’Esny Wetland and Ile aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve and wildlife. Reports indicate that the oil is likely to drift northwards, with sightings as far north as Bambous Virieux. Many people in the affected areas rely on fishing for their livelihoods, which will be impacted by the oil spill. Others rely on the tourism industry which was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and now must contend with a second significant setback. ([OCHA, 13 Aug 2020](
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GLIDE Type: 
Technological Disaster
Past disaster