Supporting the Fishing Community of Mauritius
Mauritius, a collection of islands located off the south-eastern coast of Africa, is home to 1.2 million people and an impressive array of rare wildlife and ecosystems. As a biodiversity hotspot, Mauritius boasts a high concentration of endangered animal and plant species, including centuries-old coral surrounding the island.
On 25 July 2020, MV WAKASHIO struck a coral reef off Mauritius coast, causing a widespread oil spill and the worst environmental disaster ever faced by the island nation. Nearly 1,000 tons of heavy fuel oil spilled into the Indian Ocean, leading to catastrophic impacts on both the people of Mauritius and its’ pristine environment. Beyond the ecological damage, 48,000 Mauritians across 17 coastal villages have experienced a sudden, dramatic loss in their livelihoods. The region affected by the oil spill heavily relies on interdependent coastal-related economic activities, most notably fishing and tourism. After the oil spill, the people in the region couldn´t fish in the lagoon where they used to. The collapse could have further damaged fishing gears and boats and affected human health through direct contact with the oil and/or consumption of contaminated seafood.
Additionally, the pandemic affected the fishing industry, which experienced a dramatic decline due to the significant loss of demand by tourism due to the travel restrictions. The oil spill then exacerbated the loss of livelihoods for thousands of Mauritians. Urgent support was sought to enable them to shift fishing practices away from the affected lagoon.
A crowdfunding campaign was launched to help fisherfolk and their families urgently rebuild their livelihoods. It also aimed to leverage UNDP funding to contribute to shifting fishing practices away from the affected lagoon. The campaign was developed in English and Japanese to amplify the support request.
In alignment with UNDP’s objective to mainstream biodiversity, this campaign aimed to rebuild sustainable livelihoods of coastal communities and create an opportunity to gradually replenish fish stocks in the lagoon.