Do the shores of Mauritius represent a danger for the largest mammal? A video requesting Reunionese to boycott Mauritius as a travel destination in response to the illegal killing of whales has made a buzz on Facebook.
It depicts the cruelty with which whales are killed in our shores following a treaty signed between Japan and Mauritius. Our dear and honourable Premdut Koonjoo, Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, and Shipping, in response to that video, claims that there are no whales in our ocean and that the existence of such a treaty is fallacious.
A simple google search expatiates on the presence of different types of whales in Mauritius. Bookings can also be done online for whale watching.
Whales seem to have a preference for the south western region of the island. There is even the project MAUBYDICK, led by the Mauritian NGO Marine Megafauna Conservation Organization (M2C0) which tracks the movements of sperm whales in Mauritius and where they migrate after leaving our shores. On top of that, there exists the Tourism Authority (Dolphin and Whale Watching) Regulations 2012 which provides the necessity for a skipper to have a certificate and caters for the prohibited zone and regulated zone intended for the safety of whales.
Maybe Mr Premdut Koonjoo’s motto is ‘ignorance is bliss’.
When it comes to the treaty in question, this website confirms that there is indeed a Fishing Agreement between the Republic of Mauritius and the Federation of Japan Tuna Fisheries Cooperative Associations signed in April 2009.
Unfortunately, the details of the agreement are unknown but the gist of it is that Japanese long liners can fish in Mauritian waters. A little reflection on your part will allow you to imagine what might be in happening in our seas despite the proper legal statutes and enforcing bodies set up by the government.
Our marine territory is huge and to have effective control over it requires resources and good governance. As of now, the implementation of law governing our shores is not possible because of the lack of appropriate sanctions.
Over the years our ‘paradise island’ has been in the limelight for many controversies and it is high time for a change. What can be deduced from all of those issues is that the vision of our government is only directed towards profit. The sale of citizenship and ‘sale’ of part of our sea in exchange of foreign currency raises one important question: for how long shall we remain a Sovereign State?