On Saturday, August 29, thousands of Mauritians marched peacefully in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius. They are protesting the inaction of their government after a ship crash led to an oil spill.
On July 25th, a Japanese ship ran aground in the Mahebourg Lagoon, and on August 6th, fuel began leaking.
Recently, dozens of dead dolphins have washed ashore. Local authorities have done necropsies to find the cause of death, the results aren't clear. According to the government, two of the dolphins' test results were clear of fuel oil and their death is just a "sad coincidence."
There seem to be two fundamental issues with this conclusion. One is the inaction of the government for proper oil spill clean up, and there other is the chemical make up of the fuel oil.
The government did not assist its population in the oil cleanup. It was thousands of civilian volunteers who worked for days to try to mitigate the damage. According to CTV News, Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said that the government's slow reaction was due to bad weather.
So, the government was slow to act and then blamed "coincidence" for the death of at least 39 dolphins.
The type of fuel that leaked into the Indian Ocean is a new oil that hasn't spilled into any body of water yet.
Jacqueline Sauzier with the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society said "This is the first time that type of oil has spilled, so there have been no long-term studies on the impacts." Sauzier added, "Something that is also concerning is that we don't know the possible long-term effects. The oil is a new low-sulfur fuel oil that is being introduced to reduce air pollution."
The people of Mauritius are hoping that these protests will be a turning point for their government. As for the spill, there are now external investigations that are taking place from Nagashiki Shipping experts, France, and the United Nations. And the ship's remaining fuel has been pumped out.