The Mauritius capital Port Louis has seen thousands marching over the weekend to protest the national government’s mishandling of a huge offshore oil spill and the subsequent discovery of almost 40 dead dolphins in the region.
Wearing T-shirts reading “I love my country. I’m ashamed of my government” the protests were the largest in scale seen in many years in the Indian Ocean nation.
Initiated to raise awareness of a looming environmental catastrophe following the breaking up of a Japanese oil tanker, many of those protesting think the government could have done more to prevent the break up and spill from the MV Wakashio after it hit a submerged coral reef on July 25th.
An estimated 1000 tons of oil then leaked into a protected marine reserve according to reports from the area.
One woman speaking to the media at the protest on Saturday afternoon said “I am present today because we want the truth. They didn’t do anything when the ship approached our coastline – 12 days they didn’t do anything until the oil spill and now thousands of people and marine people are affected.”
Similar protests were also reported around the world, in the UK, France and Australia, and while government sources in Mauritius say the ship’s captain has been arrested, he has yet to comment.
Mauritius is a nation largely dependent on tourism, and with its largely pristine local environment and water sports forming a huge part of that dependency, thousands of local Mauritians employed in the industry are directly affected.