Court sets aside decision for Shell to conduct seismic blasting on Wild Coast

Ntsindiso Nongcavu from Coastal Links Port St. Johns says, “We are against oil and gas drilling in the ocean. This ruling, in our favour, means that our lives will carry on, as our livelihoods depend on fishing. We are happy that our plans have been fulfilled and our livelihoods have been secured, not just for us but for future generations. This outcome motivates us because our government pays no mind to its people, but instead seems to want to make foreign companies richer. This is why we, as small-scale fishers, oppose oil and gas. Because if the onslaught of offshore oil and gas continues then future generations will have no interest in the sea as a means of life. We are glad that Shell did not win this case because it would mean that thousands of fishers will not be able to use the ocean as before because it will be zoned off and turned into a no-go area. People will have to be evicted to make space for these operations. That would mean that people's rights will be taken away from them.”

A spokesperson for the Amadiba Crisis Committee in Xolobeni Nonhle Mbuthuma says, “We have decided not to go to the Makhanda High Court to listen to the court ruling. We have decided to gather as the seven (7) villages to listen to the ruling at The Great Place. We are very happy that the judgment is in favour of our community. This means that the planet wins because it has been saved. If the judgment had been in favour of Shell, then that means that the whole planet loses everything, because this case is not just about livelihoods. It is about saving the planet and humanity.”

Sinegugu Zukulu from Sustaining the Wild Coast says, “Unlike other coastal stretches in South Africa, indigenous communities have maintained continuous possession of this land, despite waves of colonial and apartheid dispossession. This is no accident. Our ancestors' blood was spilt protecting our land and sea. We now feel a sense of duty to protect our land and sea for future generations, as well as for the benefit of the planet.”

A key issue in the case of Shell’s seismic survey off the East Coast is that the company relied on an old Environmental Management Programme (EMPr) from 2013. However, even in 2013, many affected communities were not consulted about what a seismic survey might mean for them, since many did not know about the exploration right application and were not even listed as interested and affected parties. Another issue is that media channels and languages selected, further served to exclude many traditional communities. Indigenous languages, commonly spoken in the region, were ignored (only English and Afrikaans were selected), and no radio or community publications – which are popular in these communities – were used.

Furthermore, according to The Green Connection, it appears that Shell did not consider (or chose to ignore) the migration season for hump-backed whales, in addition to the juvenile turtles that would come down the coast in the Agulhas current, into the survey area during December. Yet, it's own 2013 EMPr stated that they should try to “avoid surveying during December”. Why did Shell choose to go commence its seismic survey in December 2021, when it should have known about the risk to these animals?

WR Van Der Merwe has more in Business Watch

1 Sep 2022 English South Africa Business · Business News

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