Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.
An emergency cleanup operation has pumped the remaining oil from a Japanese ship that ran aground off Mauritius late last month, but the island nation is just beginning to grapple with the environmental and economic costs of the 1,000 tons of fuel that spilled off its coast. The MV Wakashio, which was en route from Singapore to Brazil, went off course and struck a coral reef about a mile southeast of Mauritius. The ship’s hull began to split open as it was rocked by heavy waves, and its oil started leaking late last week.
Though rescue crews were able to retrieve the ship’s remaining 3,000 tons of fuel this week before it all went into the Indian Ocean, the huge spill may already have done irreversible damage, particularly to the fragile, centuries-old coral reef. Residents are scrambling to mop up the oil, which has spread to two nearby environmentally protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park, home to 38 types of rare corals. Environmental experts said it will take decades for the marine life in those areas to recover, if it is not completely destroyed.