DURBAN - A LARGE group of people staged a protest along the Durban promenade on Saturday against the seismic survey along the Wild Coast.
The survey, which is going to be carried out by Shell and Impact Africa to find oil and gas, is set to start from December 1 and end in February 2022.
Prathna Singh, director of Ban Animal Trading South Africa, said that there hadn’t been enough research done to show how the seismic activities were going to affect the environment in the long run. Singh said that seismic activity involves a vessel going out with an array of airguns which are blasted into the seabed in 10-second intervals to find if there is oil and gas underground.
“The seismic activity planned by Shell will continue 24 hours a day, seven days a week for five months.”
Singh said she was concerned about the marine life in the area as it would sound like explosions to them.
“The environmental damage to marine life that is going to be caused by the seismic activity is worrying and this includes whales, loggerhead turtles that migrate through the areas – it’s going to be absolutely devastating to them. Many animals use sound for communication and hunting and to have that interrupted will be devastating.”
Singh said: “We are calling upon the government and Shell to cease their activities as there hasn’t been enough research, enough studies to show the long-term effects and how this is going to affect the environment.”
Singh said seismic activity had been stopped in other parts of the world.
“The pressure and outcry from members of the public has been instrumental in stopping this activity.”
Chris Whyte, director of African Circular Economy Network, who spoke at the protest, said that South Africa needed to reduce carbon emissions and turn to renewable energy and alternative energy.
“We need to look at renewable energy resources such as solar energy and wind. The leaders of solar energy are European countries and we can ascertain that due to the amount of sunlight that South Africa receives, we can be just as successful with solar energy.”
Judy Mann of the South African Association for Marine Biological Research said in a statement on its website that many of the marine and coastal habitats off the South African east coast were unique and supported a high ecological diversity, much of which was not found elsewhere.
“Internationally, seismic surveys have been demonstrated to have negative impacts on a range of marine organisms, from smaller creatures which live in sediments or plankton, to larger animals such as fishes and marine mammals.”
Speaking on the four unique Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) adjacent to the proposed survey area, Mann said MPAs protect unique marine biodiversity with a high number of endemic species, found nowhere else in the world.
“The impacts of the sound from the seismic survey travel great distances through water, meaning that the marine life in the MPAs may be impacted.”
Civil society organisation Dear South Africa said the public could comment on the seismic survey at https://dearsouthafrica.co.za/shell/
The comments will be directed to the Minister of Minerals Resources and Energy as the survey had been authorised under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 2002, which falls under the ministry’s control.