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Why the Mauritius oil spill is so serious

The amount of oil spilled from the Japanese-owned ship nearby the lagoons and coastal areas of south-east Mauritius is relatively low compared to the big oil spills the world has seen in the past, but the damage it will do is going to be huge and long-lasting, experts say...it's the location rather than the size of the spill which is causing greatest concern about its potentially serious environmental impact...The ship, MV Wakashio, ran aground at Pointe d'Esny in late July, and oil began leaking from it last Thursday...It is thought that more than 1,000 tonnes of fuel have leaked out of the ship and into the lagoon...On 7 August, nearly two weeks after the shipwreck, the Mauritian government declared the incident a national emergency...

The Mauritian marine environment is home to 1,700 species including around 800 types of fish, 17 kinds of marine mammals and two species of turtles, according to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity..."There are very few such marine areas with such rich biodiversity left on the planet. An oil spill like this will impact almost everything there," said Dr Corina Ciocan, a senior lecturer in marine biology at the UK's University of Brighton...

The ship, MV Wakashio, is believed to have been carrying around 4,000 tonnes of fuel, of which nearly 1,200 tonnes have already spilled, according to the operator Mitsui OSK Lines...Why the ship came so close to the lagoon is not clear and is being investigated by police.At a news conference, Akihiko Ono, executive vice-president of Mitsui OSK Lines "profusely" apologised for the spill and for "the great trouble we have caused"...

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