Over 200 people protested at Muizenberg beach in Cape Town on Sunday afternoon against Shell’s planned seismic survey to explore oil and gas deposits off the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast.
Protesters held placards reading “Go to hell Shell” and “No to oil; Protect our ocean”. The protest also featured giant snoek and whale puppets.
A petition to stop the seismic survey has nearly 400,000 signatories. The petition states that the air guns used during the seismic survey will cause loud shock wave emissions that will damage the surrounding marine environment.
But on Friday the high court in Makhanda dismissed an urgent application launched by environmental groups to stop the seismic survey from going ahead.
Kevin Abbott, an environmental activist at the protest, said that there is another court case to force Shell to halt its plans. “And several more will be brought until they stop seismic exploration,” he said.
Speaking to the crowd, Abbott urged protesters to boycott Shell by not buying petrol from any of the company’s petrol stations.
Elaine Mills, a Greenpeace Cape Town volunteer at the protest, said that Shell’s seismic survey would destroy the marine heritage of the Wild Coast.
“There is huge public opposition against their action. They are not wanted in South Africa’s coastal waters,” said Mills.
Mills said the survey will not only affect marine creatures, but also fishing communities on the Wild Coast “whose livelihoods depend on our marine life”.
She said increasing public pressure would force Shell to withdraw its plans.
Shell has explained on its website that, “South Africa is currently highly reliant on energy imports for many of its energy needs. Should viable resources be found offshore, this could significantly contribute to South Africa’s energy security and the government’s economic development programmes.”
The company also said that according to international research and industry experience, there is “an extremely low likelihood of biologically significant harm to marine life from appropriately mitigated seismic surveying”.