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Emergency attempts to stop commencement of Shell’s 3D seismic survey

Members of various environmental organisations and activists joined in protest at SLR Consulting in Newlands. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Members of various environmental organisations and activists joined in protest at SLR Consulting in Newlands. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 1, 2021

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Cape Town - Strong opposition by the public against Shell’s proposed 3D seismic survey along the ecologically diverse and sensitive marine environment of South Africa’s Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape continued on Tuesday as activists hoped to block the start of operations today.

In a bid to have the voices of the public heard, Green Connection handed over comments and objections to SLR environmental consultants, appointed by Shell, at their offices in Newlands yesterday afternoon.

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Green Connections strategic lead Liziwe McDaid said they were deeply concerned the proposed 3D seismic survey would cause unacceptable ecological degradation and environmental harm to the unique Wild Coast marine ecosystem, and that such degradation and harm would impact community members and small-scale fishers that depend on the ocean to make a living.

Additionally, Border Deep Sea Angling Association, Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club, Natural Justice (NJ) and Greenpeace Africa – supported by environmental law firm Cullinan & Associates – filed an urgent interim-interim interdict on Monday against Shell at the Grahamstown High Court to prevent the fossil fuel company from commencing seismic testing, which was set to start today.

Members of various environmental organisations and activists joined in protest at SLR Consulting in Newlands. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

“Our view is that the commencement of the seismic exploration activities are prima facie unlawful until Shell has applied for, and obtained, the necessary Environmental Authorisation in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (Nema).

“We also believe the decision-making process amounts to unjust administrative action since interested and affected parties were not informed of the granting of the exploration right, or given an opportunity to appeal it.

“The public were also not notified of the two applications to renew the exploration right,” said the organisations.

Petroleum Agency of South Africa (Pasa) said: “Seismic surveys commenced in South Africa almost 5 decades ago (though the activity has recently increased dramatically), no acute or chronic effects, whether to the marine mammals, or other marine life have been recorded, and no post-survey complaints have ever been received by the agency.”

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Pasa said they would continue to monitor activity along the coast of the country to ensure that exploitation of oil and gas was carried out in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner.

Shell’s South African consultant Eloise Costandius at SLR Consulting was not able to respond in time for publication.

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