Mauritius Bans Fish Sales From Polluted Lagoon

Mauritius has has banned the sale and consumption of fish and seafood caught in a south-eastern lagoon over health concerns.

The Ministry of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping said samples from the area returned positive tests for traces of hydrocarbons.

About 1,000 tonnes of oil spilled into a sanctuary for rare wildlife after the Japanese-owned ship MV Wakashio struck a coral reef on 25 July.

The National Coast Guard and the Fisheries Protection Services are working together to ensure round-the-clock surveillance and make sure that no fishing takes place in the affected area.

After the spill, dozens of dolphins were discovered dead near the area. Though, authorities said the deaths were not related to the spill, fishermen in the area noted that the animals’ vision might have been impaired by the spilled oil, which is how they ended up on the reef where they sustained fatal injuries.

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Meanwhile, the Mauritian government has requested that Japan pay a total of 1.34 billion Mauritian rupees – about $34m – to support the local fishermen community affected by an oil leak from the Japanese.

Under the proposed scheme, the Indian Ocean island nation has estimated the construction of 100 fishing boats will require 1.2 billion rupees, with 9.7 million rupees needed to provide training for 475 fishermen and 60 skippers unaccustomed to fishing in rough seas.

The Panama-flagged bulk carrier Wakashio, owned by Nagashiki Shipping Co., was carrying about 3,800 tons of fuel oil when it ran aground on July 25.

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Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., operator of the carrier, said earlier that more than 1,000 tons of oil had leaked from the vessel.

Fishing off coastal areas polluted by the spill is currently banned.

Mauritius declared a state of environmental emergency on Aug. 7, citing fears about the impact on endangered animals such as indigenous wild birds and sea turtles.

The country is also requesting 134 million rupees to renovate the Albion Fisheries Research Center, an aging facility built in the 1980s with the assistance of Japan, and to provide training to staff there.

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