Conservationists, the South African public, and Shell Oils own distributors in the Eastern Cape region are making their voices heard and protesting the decision by Shell Oil to use disruptive seismic surveys in their search for new oil fields off the pristine WildCoast region of South Africa.
Hot off the back of the recent #COP26 Climate Change discussions, Shell Oil were dispatching their vessel to the region, which will set off seismic blasts every 10 seconds, 24-hours a day for the next 6 months throughout a migratory route for whales, dolphins, sharks and turtles and buffering much-fought for Marine Protected Areas (MPs).
The Marine Protetected Areas (MPA) which were declared just over a year ago, help manage part of the marine environment to promote fisheries sustainability, keep marine ecosystems working properly, and protect the range of species living there, helping people to benefit from the ocean.
The IUCN provides a global definition of MPAs and notes that an area needs to meet the IUCN protected area definition to qualify and be recognised as an MPA :““A clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated, and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values”.
Dr Judy Mann, a highly respected and internationally recognised conservation strategist at Durban-based SAAMBR (South African Association for Marine Biological Research) compiled the five main reasons why South Africa should not start offshore oil and gas exploration along the Wild Coast.
The action against Shell Oil is mounting with the local community planning a march along Wild Coast beaches on Sunday 5 December starts at the Mzamba River Estuary, according to Amadiba Crisis Committee co-founder Nonhle Mbuthuma amidst a swell of supporting campaigners set to demonstrate their disapproval by creating a human wall along the East Coast.
KZN Coastal Communities Unite
KZN Mid-South Coast Ocean Supporters NPO (KMOS) will host an ocean gathering which forms part of the nationwide objection taking place along the South African coastline on December 5th. People from all over the coast will gather at their nearest beaches to show their solidarity for the cause. Environmental Conservation NPO, The Bataleurs, will be deploying a squadron of aircraft for a coast-to-coast flyover, taking aerial footage to provide visuals of the power of this movement.
Local Ocean activist Janet Soloman and the Oceans Not Oil South Africa team has been busy gathering signatures and rallying people to join the Dec 5th protests to protect our oceans.
Meanwhile, a group of environmental and human rights organisations have filed an urgent court application to stop the petroleum giant in its tracks. The applicants, represented by law firm Cullinan & Associates, are the Border Deep Sea Angling Association, the Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club, Natural Justice and Greenpeace Africa. filed an urgent “interim-interim” interdict in the Eastern Cape division of the high court to stop Shell from embarking on its months-long seismic testing between Morgans Bay and Port St Johns, which is due to begin on Wednesday.
In a joint statement, the applicants said the commencement of the seismic exploration activities were “prima facie unlawful until Shell has applied for, and obtained” the necessary environmental authorisation in terms of the National Environmental Management Act.