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Shell seismic ops: ‘Our ancestors’ blood was spilt protecting the land and sea’

Mail&Guardian

Shell seismic ops: ‘Our ancestors’ blood was spilt protecting the land and sea’

This is detailed in the second legal challenge mounted against the petroleum giant’s planned 3D seismic survey to explore for hydrocarbon reserves beneath the seabed between Morgan Bay and Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape.

The applicants have asked the court to halt Shell’s seismic blasting pending the outcome of their challenge of Shell’s assertion that it is legally entitled to commence with the operations. Not only will the seismic survey be harmful, they argue, it is unlawful, because Shell does not have an environmental authorisation to conduct the exploration right in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (Nema).

“The Wild Coast is a place of stunning natural beauty,” said Sinegugu Zukulu, the director of the nonprofit organisation Sustaining the Wild Coast, in his founding affidavit. “Unlike other coastal stretches in South Africa, indigenous people have maintained continuous possession of this land, despite waves of colonial and apartheid aggression.

This is no accident, Zukulu said. “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.”

The matter will be heard next Tuesday by the high court in Makhanda before acting judge Avinash Govindjee. On Friday, Govindjee dismissed an application for an urgent interdict by the Border Deep Sea Angling Association, Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club, Natural Justice and Greenpeace Africa, who sought to stop Shell’s seismic exploration from proceeding on 1 December.

The applicants, he ruled, had failed to convince him that there was a “well-rounded apprehension of irreparable damage to marine life” with their submissions relating to the detrimental effect of the seismic testing on the environment, and marine life in particular, being “speculative at best”.

Shell did not respond to the Mail & Guardian, but last week it said that it has “long experience” in collecting offshore seismic data and has taken “great care” to prevent or minimise potential impacts on fish, marine mammals and other wildlife. “We have conducted an environmental study in line with regulatory requirements and obtained legal permits to carry out the activity.”

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