Iconic buildings in the Port Area light up blue to mark World Maritime Day 2023 observed on 28 September this year.
In this context, an official ceremony was held in the presence of the Minister of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, Mr Sudheer Maudhoo, at the Caudan Waterfront in Port-Louis.
The theme retained by the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) World Maritime is ‘MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on’ which reflects the organisation’s long history of protecting the environment from the impact of shipping and implementing the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.
In his address, Minister Maudhoo recalled that the theme is in line with the MARPOL Convention and that Government is committed to ensure the protection of the marine ecosystem against pollution caused by ships or other operations. The Blue economy, he said, is a key sector of the Mauritian economy and a common heritage which has to be preserved at all costs. Mauritius is fully engaged in the implementation of the MARPOL Convention and in promoting the sustainable development of the marine ecosystem, he added.
Mauritius, the Minister observed, is close to a dense and busy maritime route with the passing of some 40 000 ships annually hence a high risk for marine pollution. More than 3 000 incidents including 40 lost ships and seven shipwrecks were recorded in 2022, he noted. My Ministry, indicated Mr Maudhoo, is closing monitoring the flux of ships in our waters according to the navigation safety guided by the legal map as encapsulated in the Merchant Shipping Act.
He spoke of the harms caused by the oil spill following the grounding of the Japanese bulk carrier MV Wakashio at Pointe d’Esny. A state of environmental emergency was declared following the incident and Government had to act promptly so as to protect Ramsar sites and the marine biodiversity, as well as the people’s health.
With regard to the shipwreck at St Brandon Island in December 2022, Minister Maudhoo remarked that it gave rise to the complexity of maritime governance and the existing legal framework. The ship, he informed, is still aground with 60 tons of diesel on board while adding that all solid pollutants were removed with the help of an Indian ship which was in the vicinity.
The Minister expressed his concern as regards unclear provisions in the law concerning the responsibility of the flag state of the ship when a proprietor abandons a wrecked ship. He thus called for clearer, specific and stricter laws to determine such complex situations and underlined the need to address the weaknesses of the existing laws.