Mauritius Hit By Minor Oil Spill in Wake of Ecological Disaster

A Chinese-flagged fishing vessel has run aground close to Mauritius’s only port, just months after the Indian Ocean island nation had to contend with its worst-ever ecological disaster that was caused by a massive oil spill.

The FV Lu Rong Yuan Yu, a 45-meter long (148-foot) fishing trawler, ran aground on the west coast on March 7 while queuing to enter the port for bunkering purposes. The vessel was carrying 130 metric tons of marine gasoil and five tons of lubricating oil, according to an e-mailed statement from the environment ministry.

It is expected to take four to five days to remove the ship from the reefs, Shipping Minister Sudheer Maudhoo told reporters on Monday. “It is an oil sheen, no breach in the ship,” he said.

Samples of sea water have been taken to detect any trace of pollution and booms deployed as a precautionary measure to protect sensitive zones, including a marine park and bird sanctuary, according to the environment ministry.

If a breach occurs, a spill could threaten the livelihoods of communities that depend on the ocean. It would also be another knock to tourism, Mauritius’s main foreign-currency earner, which collapsed after the government cut the island off from the world to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The latest incident comes months after fuel oil from a stranded bulk carrier polluted delicate ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park reserve, which is popular with snorkelers.

The MV Wakashio leaked at least 1,000 tons of black sludge into the turquoise waters off the Indian Ocean island’s southeastern coast after it ran aground on July 25. The bulk carrier breached after days of bad weather and constant pounding from the ocean, according to its owner, Nagashiki Shipping Co. Ltd.

The disaster sparked public outrage with tens of thousands taking to the streets, and there were calls for the government to step down.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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