MESSAGE OF SOLIDARITY TO THE TRADE UNIONS AND PEOPLE OF MAURITIUS
We send our sincere condolences and solidarity to the people of Mauritius who have been severely impacted by the oil spill on the coral reefs near Point d'Esny where the Japanese bulk carrier (registered in Panama), the MV Wakashiro ran aground on 25th July.
Mauritius and its surrounding islands form a world-renowned sanctuary for rare wildlife with unusually high levels of biodiversity and many unique species. The area also includes wetlands designated as a site of international importance by the Ramsar convention. The oil spill involves about 1000 tonnes of fuel oil and now covers an area of at least 27km2. It is clear that the oil spill will bring major environmental damage to coral reefs and the ecosystem they support. This disaster is a major environmental catastrophe and its effects are likely to last for many years to come.
We recognise that the livelihoods of Mauritian fishermen will already have been directly adversely affected by the oil spill and that many other Mauritian workers will face a loss of income and employment as a result. The unique wildlife of Mauritius is a major tourist draw and coming on top of Covid-19, this is a major economic disaster for the people of Mauritius who depend on tourism. We send a message of support to the workers and people of Mauritius in this crisis.
The authorities in Mauritius have asked the Mauritian people not to interfere in official efforts to contain the spill, but international support for the clean-up, including from the countries and company responsible appears to have been too little and too late. The Mauritian people have a proud socialist, community-led history and have worked together to fashion makeshift barriers and clean up the beaches and sea. Mauritian people have taken to the streets to protest what they view as the government's inadequate response and the finding of 34 dead or seriously ill melon-headed whales near the site of the spill. We applaud the efforts of the Mauritian people, but feel that International support now needs to be stepped up. We would welcome your guidance in how best to support the workers, people and environment of Mauritius, through petitions, financial aid or any other means.
This disaster highlights issues of global inequality with our current international system of reliance on the commercial extraction, shipping and sale of dwindling oil reserves with scant concern for the consequences of manmade accidents.
AUE Executive Committee, September 2020