Chinese-flagged trawler runs aground off Mauritius, sparking concerns about potentially devastating oil leaks

Coastguard and naval forces have been deployed by Mauritius after a Chinese-flagged trawler carrying 130 tons of petroleum ran aground off the island nation, sparking fears of an environmental disaster if it starts to leak oil.

Fisheries Minister Sudheer Maudhoo announced on Monday that Mauritian forces were responding to the incident after receiving distress calls from the captain of the trawler on Sunday afternoon. 

It marks the second time in 8 months that a tanker has run aground on a reef close to the island, with the previous incident in July resulting in the worst environmental disaster in the history of Mauritius, leaking 1,000 tons of fuel into the ocean.

The Chinese-flagged trawler got into trouble off the coast of Pointe-aux-Sables, on the northwest of the island, and sent up distress flares that were seen by nearby residents. 

The authorities will work with the ship’s crew to first pump out the oil, reducing the risk of 130 tons of the fuel and five tons of lubricants on board leaking into the surrounding ocean. However, in the event that naval forces don’t remove the oil in time, precautionary containment booms have been deployed to limit the spread of any leak.

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The government in Mauritius will be looking to avoid a repeat of their handling of the July incident, which was heavily criticized by residents and saw tens of thousands of people protest in the streets over what they saw as political failings. 

While Japanese-owned tanker MV Wakashio became stranded on July 25, 2020, oil didn’t start leaking for more than a week after the incident, with the government accused of not acting swiftly enough to protect coral reefs and coastal areas that residents rely on for their livelihood, mainly tourism and fishing.

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Source:RT World News

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