Picket outside Gqeberha court to stop Shell seismic study

High Court asked to set aside the Department of Mineral Resources’ decision to award a seismic exploration right to Shell

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Representatives of civic organisations and local communities picketed on Monday outside the Port Elizabeth High Court where the case to have Shell’s seismic survey rights set aside is being heard. Photo: Joseph Chirume

About 70 people from various civic organisations picketed outside the Port Elizabeth High Court on Monday where the case against Shell is currently underway.

Environmental groups, local communities and small-scale fishers are asking the court to review and set aside the decision by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to award a seismic exploration right to Shell.In late 2021, the seismic study to explore for oil and gas over 6,000km2 off the Wild Coast was stopped. This followed a court interdict secured by Sustaining the Wild Coast, local community representatives and All Rise Attorneys for Climate and the Environment, pending the outcome of this application.

Shell is arguing that it consulted widely with all affected communities along the coastline, including traditional leaders. The applicants say this did not go far enough and that traditional leaders do not represent all people affected by the survey.

On Monday, advocacy organisation Natural Justice handed out pamphlets, accusing Shell of not acquiring an environmental authorisation for the seismic testing under the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA).

“For many communities in the area, the ocean is a fundamental component of ecological knowledge, customary law, and natural resource governance. Seismic testing may cause harm to fish, mammals, and bird species in that area,” said the organisation.

“Offshore exploration inevitably leads to the extraction of oil and gas from the ocean. These are fossil fuels that cause carbon emissions and will contribute to the climate crisis,” wrote Natural Justice.

Ntsindiso Nongcavu is one of the applicants and represents Coastal Links. He is a fisherman and provides for a family of 12. “We depend on fishing in our community. If Shell conducts seismic blasting, we will become destitute as fish will leave our shores.”

Vuyiseka Mani of the Eastern Cape Environmental Network and Green Connection said: “People who have been sustaining their lives from fishing will no longer afford to send their children to school if the environment is damaged. There are no direct benefits to communities because they don’t have the skills to be part of [Shell’s] project.”

The matter is expected to run in court until Wednesday.

TOPICS:  Environment

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