An informative meeting about the evolution of the forthcoming phases englobing the environmental, social and legal aspects associated with the grounding of MV Wakashio and the subsequent oil spillage that occurred, was held, today, at Newton Tower, in Port Louis. It was chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Nandcoomar Bodha, and was attended by members of the Diplomatic Corps and representatives from international institutions and friendly countries.
Discussions also focused on how the various partners can help Mauritius during these phases. At the very outset, Minister Bodha expressed gratitude to all friendly countries for their quick response in terms of logistics and expertise following the oil spill.
During the emergency phase, he recalled that local institutions together with experts have undertaken the cleaning up of the lagoon and the shoreline. Henceforth, several issues such as data collection, technical consultancy, and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) need to be finalised, he emphasised.
Speaking about data, Minister Bodha indicated that these have been collected by Ministries, local institutions, the University of Mauritius (UoM), the Mauritius Oceanography Institute, the private sector such as the hotel industry, and experts from friendly countries. For him, all these data need to be stored under one depository namely the UoM and under one format.
This data which has scientific value, he stated, is crucial as regards the rehabilitation of the coast. It is also important for policymakers and from a legal perspective as it can be used as evidence for claim. He invited stakeholders to provide research analysis and reports to the UoM. A Call for Technical Consultancy on the way forward with regards to the rehabilitation of the shoreline, tourist industry, and the community, will be launched, he announced.
The Minister stated that a main National Claim of the State of Mauritius will be made and will encompass the claims from the community and the private sector. People also have access to Help Desks in the community where they can explain the prejudice caused by the wreck of MV Wakashio and the ensuing oil spill, he said. As regards the EIA, it will be carried out under the Agence Française de Développement and the World Bank where key documents will have to provide evidence and substantiate the claims, he added.
Minister Bodha highlighted that experts will help to draft an Action Plan pertaining to the rehabilitation and the restoration of the flora, fauna, and coastline in the short, medium and long terms. Furthermore, Government is envisaging the setting up a Foundation which will collect grants to help the community, he said.