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Opposition to seismic surveys off the Wild Coast by Shell

On Saturday, two protesters held placards at the Paradise Motors Shell service station on the M3. They were opposing Shell's seismic surveys along the Wild Coast. The ship, the Amazon Warrior will be docking in Cape Town on its route. Coast Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

On Saturday, two protesters held placards at the Paradise Motors Shell service station on the M3. They were opposing Shell's seismic surveys along the Wild Coast. The ship, the Amazon Warrior will be docking in Cape Town on its route. Coast Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 22, 2021

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DURBAN - The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) says whilst it has noted the concerns about seismic surveys to be conducted along the South African coastline, the DFFE Minister Barbara Creecy is not responsible for authorising such surveys.

Department spokesperson Albi Modise was responding to concerns about the seismic surveys to be conducted by Shell and Impact Africa Limited off the coast of South Africa between this December and February 2022.

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“The impact of the seismic survey to be undertaken by Shell and Impact Africa has been authorised under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 2002 (Act No. 28 of 2002), (MRPDA) which under section 39(2) of the Act requires the submission of an environmental management plan which is to assess and evaluate the environmental impacts of the activity,” Modise said.

He said Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe was the Minister responsible for the administration of the MPRDA.

“It should be noted that since the coming into effect of the One Environment System on December 8, 2014, the application process for the seismic surveys was finalised. All decisions made under the MPRDA at the time remain valid and binding until set aside by a court of law,” Modise said.

Earlier this month, the Democratic Alliance spokesperson on environment, forestry and fisheries Dave Bryant, called on Creecy to re-evaluate her consent for the seismic blasting in the ocean along the Wild Coast.

South African Association for Marine Biological Research (Saambr) conservation strategist Dr Judy Mann, said: “We have serious concerns about the risks of drilling for oil offshore of the Wild Coast, given that this region is influenced by one of the fastest-flowing and most powerful oceanic currents in the world – the Agulhas Current.

“ This current is not static – it meanders up to 100km in width, and while it generally flows from north to south, current reversals are not uncommon, particularly in deeper water. Large-scale eddies peeling off the current complicate the flow, with offshore water frequently reaching our coast. The power of the current is such that attempts to contain any accidental spillage or normal operational spillage would likely be unsuccessful,” Mann said.

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Under a Facebook post by Saambr on the seismic surveys, this is what users had to say:

Heidi Dinan said: “Thank you for commenting publicly against this, having SAAMBR state concerns, knowing that your team of scientists are basing this on genuine research that has gone on for decades gives the fight street cred that it desperately needs to be taken seriously by authorities. Please do all you can as an organisation to prevent this. We should be EXPANDING our MPAs hugely, not endangering the small number that we have!”

Rory Richards said: “I work in the oil and gas industry and what you don't realize is that wherever there are oil rigs the sea life flourishes. There isn't any netting and there's constant activity resulting in illegal fishing stopped. Every place I have work has awesome fish and marine mammal life. Try looking at the positive side, you'll be surprised”

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