Thousands of people are protesting in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, over the government’s handling of an oil spill from a Japanese ship which ran aground last month. This follows the discovery of dozens of dead dolphins in recent days.
ABC News reports at least 39 dead dolphins have washed ashore but it’s as yet unclear what killed them. Some experts fear the chemicals in the fuel are responsible. Jacqueline Sauzier of the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society said, “The oil is a new low-sulphur fuel oil that is being introduced to reduce air pollution.” She added, “This is the first time that type of oil has spilled, so there have been no long-term studies on the impacts.”
Protesters waved the island’s flag and held up placards. Local writer Khalil Cassimally tweeted, “Never seen so many people in the streets. This is beautiful.” One protester scrawled ‘Inaction’, on an inflatable dolphin, while another’s placard read “Corruption”, in the local Creole.
Protests have also been reported outside the Mauritius High Commission in London, in Paris and in Perth, Australia.
While the Mauritius government has not commented on the demonstrations, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth the government’s slow response to the ship’s grounding on inclement weather.
According to ABC News, the captain and first officer of MV Wakashio have been arrested and charged with “endangering safe navigation.” The ship had reportedly strayed miles off course when it wrecked, spilling more than a thousand tons of oil into the Indian Ocean.
Umm Muhammed Umar