The Daily News last month reported that non-governmental organisations had slammed the proposed tests for oil and gas drilling near the Durban and Richards Bay coasts.
Khalid Mather, one of the workshop panellists, said oil and gas exploration off the city coast would have disastrous consequences for wildlife in the vicinity of the exploration area.
He said the sonic blast is bounced off the ocean floor and back to the vessel, damaging the ocean floor canyons and also affecting marine life.
The drilling, expected to begin next year, would apparently affect marine life as vibrations travel through water and earth faster than air.
Mather said this could result in whales beaching and the sardine run being affected.
He said another problem with the oil drilling was the production waste, which was an environmental hazard that came from it.
He said he doubted there was anything that was going to stop exploration.
“There is no social linkage to this whole operation,” he said. He felt this was exploitation of environmental resources and would impact the poor along the coastline between Richards Bay and Port Shepstone.
He said there would not be economic upliftment and these activities would have ecological impact in the long term.
“What could be done is more awareness about the issue,” he said.
Hoosen Bobat, a concerned citizen, said he was worried about the proposed drilling as it could lead to the collapse of eco-tourism along the coastline.
Bobat, a financial planner, said he supported economic growth, but felt this should not be at the cost of the environment.
“Whatever is in the ground should stay in the ground,” he said.
Bobat said the other problem was that there was no guarantee an oil spill would not occur.
“If a spill happened, people who make a living based on eco -tourism along the coastline would negatively affected,” he said.
“This is especially important for Durban, as it has one of the best coastlands in the world.”