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Mauritius: Oil and Troubled Waters - WWF raises concerns of impact on marine species and ecosystems

Antananarivo, Madagascar, 28 August 2020 - As the recent oil spill off the coast of Mauritius continues to impact waters and ecosystems, WWF is calling for a Natural Resource Damage Assessment to be fast-tracked by the Mauritius government and the international community. This should include sampling and collection of dead and contaminated wildlife for forensic analysis and setting up long-term monitoring of species and ecosystem health. The call comes as concerning footage of dead dolphins washing ashore has emerged.


Nanie Ratsifandrihamanana, Country Director, WWF-Madagascar said: “we need all hands on deck. The dead animals need to be collected and examined and a comprehensive sampling of fish and other ecosystems elements needs to be fully resourced."

WWF praises the local NGOs and community groups on Mauritius for their rapid response to the oil spill and for their efforts to remove oil. WWF welcomes the news that the international community is mobilizing to support Mauritius in its clean-up efforts and calls on Mauritius to be fully transparent with civil society groups about the oil spill and its impacts.”

“You cannot sweep an oil spill of this scale under the carpet” said Ghislaine Llewellyn from the WWF Global Oceans Practice; “Local community groups need to be fully engaged and empowered in the oil spill response and clean-up. This is not just an environmental crisis, it is potentially a public health and livelihoods crisis because of the risk of contamination of fish and the loss of jobs.

“The priority must be on removing as much of the oil as possible from the coastal system, managing the direct and indirect effects of the oil on wildlife and habitats, and assessing and responding to the impact of the spill on the communities and economic sectors” said Dr Rémi Ratsimbazafy, marine biodiversity expert from WWF Madagascar.

Coastal tourism, fishing, seafood processing and seaport activities contribute over 10.5% of the Mauritian GDP, with total direct employment estimated at over 7,000, excluding coastal tourism.

Globally, whale and dolphin watching is valued at over US$2 billion annually. Protecting populations of great whales is identified as an important strategy for building a ‘blue economy’ and healthy populations of whales and coastal dolphins are crucial for sustainably managed tourism in Mauritius. These species rely on specific ocean habitats around the world – areas where they feed, mate, give birth, or migrate – for their survival. Mauritius is a hub for a variety of iconic species. At this time of year, humpback whales have made their epic migrations north from their summer feeding grounds off Antarctica to breed in the Southwestern Indian Ocean. 

The task of managing the rehabilitation and ultimate restoration of the affected habitats must be scaled up and resourced adequately to put Mauritius on the road to recovery, underpinned by a sustainable ocean-based economy. A detailed list of priorities and recommendations as identified by WWF can be found here.


Notes to Editors:

© (c) Greenpeace Africa
MV Wakashio (c) Greenpeace Africa