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Why was the vessel so close to Mauritius to begin with? As Julian Lee and Adeola Eribake reported for Bloomberg, geography is part of the answer. They write, “Mauritius and the nearby island of Reunion lie on the shortest straight-line route between the Strait of Malacca, which links the ports of Asia to the Indian Ocean, and the southern tip of Africa.” This means that it is a very desirable route servicing manufacturing centers, research-rich regions, and markets. As such, global shipping lanes, particularly through Mauritius, have become increasingly crowded and putting coastal communities increasingly at risk for spills.
Many, as Forbes reported, are asking follow-up questions about how the spill occurred, whether or not it could be prevented, and what should be done now. According to Nishan Degnarain in Forbes, the satellite data “raises questions about why the vessel’s GPS tracking did not indicate it was heading towards an impact with land, or why local authorities did not intervene with sufficient warning, given the clear trajectory with the island.”
In response to this slow response, and despite the government ordering people to stay away from the spill, local volunteers started making makeshift barriers and cleaning up the beaches. As environmental activist Ashok Subron told AFP news agency, “People have realised that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora.” And sadly, Vassen Kauppaymuthoo, an oceanographer and environmental engineer, told AFP news agency, “I think it’s already too late.”
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