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LOOK: Thousands protest against Shell’s seismic survey on the Wild Coast

Dozens gathered at the Durban beachfront yesterday to protest against Shell’s seismic survey along the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape. Protests were held across KZN and in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Dozens gathered at the Durban beachfront yesterday to protest against Shell’s seismic survey along the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape. Protests were held across KZN and in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Dec 6, 2021

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DURBAN - THOUSANDS of people protested along KwaZulu-Natal’s beaches and in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces yesterday against Shell’s seismic survey planned for the Wild Coast.

The protest follows a court ruling by the Makhanda High Court on Friday giving Shell the go-ahead to proceed with its seismic activity off the Wild Coast.

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The ruling followed an application for an urgent interdict to halt the survey, which was brought by four organisations – Greenpeace Africa, Natural Justice, the Border Deep Sea Angling Association, and the Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club.

The court ruled that the applicants had failed to convince it that there was a reasonable apprehension of “irreparable harm” if the interdict was not granted and that given the financial and other prejudice to Shell if the seismic surveys were delayed, the “balance of convenience” was in Shell’s favour.

Prathna Singh, director of Ban Animal Trading Africa and one of the organisers of the protest, said that thousands of concerned people had protested yesterday at the same time in at least 70 different locations across South Africa.

“This protest was a mobilisation of people to say to Shell, ’we want you to stop this seismic activity’. The public has a say to protect our marine life.”

Singh said that scientists were concerned that the seismic activity would not only cause damage to the environment but the sound of the blasts would disrupt the communication of whales, dolphins and other sea animals.

“Dolphins and whales use echolocation for hunting and communication and the seismic survey will cause disruption among their communication. The loggerhead turtle migration to warmer waters, which takes place between October and February, will also be affected by the seismic activity.”

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Singh also said that the impact of the blasts could cause smaller fish to explode and with communication disrupted, the reproduction of whales and dolphins could be affected.

Singh added that seismic activity, which involves air guns from a vessel being blasted into the seabed at 10-second intervals to explore for oil and gas underground, could lead to seismic drilling.

“Seismic activity leading to seismic drilling for oil and gas is concerning as this could lead to oil leaks, pollution of the oceans and the destruction of our sea life.”

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Steve Smith of the Monkey Helpline Justice for Animals, said that there hadn’t been a proper environmental assessment to establish the safety of Shell’s seismic activity.

“There are other options such as alternative energy and renewable energy instead of relying on seismic activity to find oil and gas underground,” he said.

Heather Martin, of Waterfall, said that she was a free diver and loved the ocean.

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“We are here today (yesterday) to show our solidarity against the drilling and seismic activity that Shell is going to be doing. It hasn’t been passed through the correct stakeholders and there hasn’t been enough explanation and enough information put out there to do an environmental impact study to show the effect this is going to have on our marine life and our oceans.”

Meanwhile, Independent Media reported on Friday that other organisations, Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) and several Wild Coast communities, including fisherfolk, traditional leaders and healers, have filed papers seeking to interdict Shell’s seismic survey.

SWC, together with the Dwesa-Cwebe Communal Property Association, fishermen – Ntsindiso Nongcavu (Port St Johns), Sazise Maxwell Pekayo and Cameron Thorpe (Kei Mouth) – Amadiba traditional leader and healer Mashona Wetu Dlamini and All Rise Attorneys for Climate and Environmental Justice have applied for an urgent interdict against Shell’s seismic survey off the Wild Coast.

This application – separate from the urgent application that was dismissed – will be heard on December 14.

Dozens gathered at the Durban beachfront yesterday to protest against Shell’s seismic survey along the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape. Protests were held across KZN and in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Dozens gathered at the Durban beachfront yesterday to protest against Shell’s seismic survey along the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape. Protests were held across KZN and in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Dozens gathered at the Durban beachfront yesterday to protest against Shell’s seismic survey along the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape. Protests were held across KZN and in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

THE MERCURY

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