• Kyodo

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Mauritius has requested that Japan pay a total of 1.34 billion Mauritian rupees (¥3.6 billion) to support the local fishers affected by an oil leak from a Japanese freighter that ran aground in July, according to a Mauritian government document.

Under the proposed scheme, the Indian Ocean island nation has estimated that the construction of 100 fishing boats will require 1.2 billion rupees, with 9.7 million rupees needed to provide training for 475 fishers and 60 skippers unaccustomed to fishing in rough seas.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that Japan will provide long-term assistance to help Mauritius deal with the cleanup from the oil spill.

Noting the assistance will not be restricted to preventing the further spread of the oil or its removal, Suga said it will extend to social and economic areas.

“We would like to offer assistance in the medium- to long-term in those areas while cooperating with the countries involved,” Suga said.

The Panama-flagged bulk carrier Wakashio, owned by Nagashiki Shipping Co., was carrying about 3,800 tons of fuel oil when it ran aground on July 25.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., operator of the carrier, said earlier that more than 1,000 tons of oil had leaked from the vessel.

Fishing off coastal areas polluted by the spill is currently banned.

Mauritius declared a state of environmental emergency on Aug. 7, citing fears about the impact on endangered animals such as indigenous wild birds and sea turtles.

The country is also requesting 134 million rupees to renovate the Albion Fisheries Research Center, an aging facility built in the 1980s with assistance from Japan, and to provide training to staff there.

“It is true that we are currently receiving various requests. Japan is working to promptly do all that it can,” said an official from the Embassy of Japan in Mauritius.

Japan has said that it will dispatch a third relief team to Mauritius on Wednesday to help with the island nation’s response to the spill.

The six-member team will help conduct detailed investigations of mangroves, coral reefs, wildlife and seawater quality to assess the impact of the oil leak, the Environment Ministry has said.

The team includes Toyohiko Miyagi, an emeritus professor at Tohoku Gakuin University, Shuichi Fujiwara, technical counselor at environment conservation consultancy firm Idea Consultants Inc., and officials from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the ministry said.

“The Environment Ministry will give full support in responding to a situation that has led to a crisis for biodiversity,” it said in a statement.

The first relief team, consisting of officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Japan Coast Guard and JICA, was dispatched from Aug. 10 to Aug. 23 to engage in oil removal activities.

The second team, sent Aug. 19, is currently engaging in environmental assistance, the Foreign Ministry has said.

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