Protesters hit South African beaches to oppose oil exploration


In Cape Town, protesters held up the peace symbol and held up a giant snoek fish to highlight their concerns. – © AFP

Hundreds of environmental protesters gathered on South African beaches on Sunday to protest oil and gas exploration by energy giant Shell.

In Cape Town, protesters held up the peace symbol, banners bearing the inscription “Shell in Hell” and a model of a giant snoek fish to underline their concerns about the potential impact of the project on marine life.

Under dull, rainy skies, Gqeberha protesters held up signs showing a Shell logo modified to resemble a hand showing its middle finger and calling for a boycott of the group’s gas stations.

Campaigners say Shell’s plans to search for oil and gas deposits off South Africa’s beloved rugged coastline – a key tourist attraction – pose a danger to marine animals.

Shell plans to use the seismic waves emitted by boats equipped with air guns to analyze the geological structure of the ocean floor, looking for spots that may contain hydrocarbons.

“We don’t know what impact seismic blasting will have on very rich marine life that has been around for hundreds of thousands of years,” said Div de Villiers, a local wildlife crime official.

“Has sufficient research been done on all of our fish species? Has Shell researched the impact on people’s livelihoods? “

Environmentalists say the exploration technique could disrupt animal behavior, feeding, reproduction and migration, with many sea creatures such as whales relying heavily on their sense of hearing.

But a court on Friday rejected their request for an emergency injunction against Shell’s plans.

“At a time when all the accepted science indicates that we are no longer using fossil fuels and that our neighbors in the northern hemisphere are strongly opposed to seismic studies, I find it strange that these new ‘colonizers’ feel justified in moving their homes. unwanted activities to Africa. Said Alan Straton, a sailor and member of the Ocean Stewards Development Project.

The rugged coastline includes several nature reserves and marine protected areas that stretch some 300 kilometers (180 miles) of unspoiled Indian Ocean shoreline.

Shell plans to spend four to five months exploring the area over an area of ​​6,000 square kilometers.

“We take great care to prevent or minimize impacts to fish, marine mammals and other wildlife,” a company spokesperson told AFP last month.


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