Nearly 100 people demonstrated on Muizenberg beach on Sunday to oppose a seismic survey along the west coast of South Africa by an Australian company called SEARCHER.
An urgent application for a restraining order to stop the seismic survey will be heard in the Cape Town High Court on Monday morning.
As part of the campaign, a giant snoek and a whale puppet were carried through the crowd as drums were played. Protesters held signs reading “Save our seas”, “Oceans, not oil” and “Our ocean is not for sale”.
The protesters belonged to various environmental organizations, such as Green Connection, Greenpeace Cape Town Volunteers, Extinction Rebellion, Coastal Links and Project 90 by 2030.
Environmental groups fear the seismic survey, which will cover much of the west coast, will have a huge impact on marine life.
The seismic survey will include a 2D survey totaling a length of up to approximately 22,000 km and a 3D survey covering an area of 10,000 km2.
The possibility of dwindling marine resources will in turn affect the livelihoods of small-scale fishing communities who depend on marine life as a resource, according to Pedro Garcia of the South African United Fishing Front.
Garcia said “uncertainty about seismic surveys puts [fishing] communities at risk”. He said SEARCHER must cease seismic surveys until there is certainty about the effects they will have on marine life.
Garcia said fishing communities are already struggling to survive with limited access to resources.
Priyanka Naidoo of the Legal Resources Center (LRC), which represents fishing communities in the case, said she wanted SEARCHER to suspend seismic blasting until a court reviews the case.
“Our case is fundamentally based on the fact that they did not consult with the people whose lives and livelihoods will be affected by the earthquake blasting,” Naidoo said.
Elaine Mills of Greenpeace Cape Town Volunteers told the crowd they still had a long battle to fight, even though Shell halted its planned seismic surveys off the rugged Eastern Cape coast, prompting a protest early December 2021.
Mills also explained that it would be argued in the court case that the process of receiving the permit was not done properly since local communities were not consulted about the seismic surveys.
Mills said the effect on marine animals was a serious concern, such as dolphins, which rely on hearing to navigate, find food and reproduce.
Questions have been sent to SEARCHER but no response has been received at the time of publication. The SEARCHER website indicates that their permit had been granted by the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy. He said the effects on marine life had been taken into account when granting the permit “along with the identification of measures to avoid and mitigate these potential impacts, as provided by independent specialists”.
SEARCHER’s website says the approval process also included a formal 30-day public review and comment period.
Originally published on GroundUp / © 2022 GroundUp. This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.