shell wild coast

Natural Justice and Green Peace have applied for a court interdict to stop Shell from starting seismic blasting off the Wild Coast. Environmental groupsPhoto: Twitter/GreenpeaceShip

Shell Wild Coast BLASTING: Natural Justice, Green Peace head to court

Environmental groups and local fishermen have applied for an urgent interdict to stop Shell’s seismic blasting off the Wild Coast.

shell wild coast

Natural Justice and Green Peace have applied for a court interdict to stop Shell from starting seismic blasting off the Wild Coast. Environmental groupsPhoto: Twitter/GreenpeaceShip

Environmental and human rights organisations supported by environmental law firm, Cullinan & Associates have filed an application for an urgent interim interdict against Shell in the Grahamstown High Court to prevent the fossil fuel firm from conducting seismic testing along South Africa’s ecologically sensitive Wild Coast marine environment.

Shell’s seismic testing was due to start off the Wild Coast on 1 December 2021. However, the matter is currently now before the court.

Cullinan & Associates delivered a certificate of urgency to the Registrar at approximately 12h45 on 29 November 2021 according to the organisation, Natural Justice, which is one the applicants along with Border Deep Sea Angling Association, Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club and Greenpeace Africa.

Acting Judge Avinash Govindjee’s Directive was received at around 14:20, and saw the matter as urgent, and determined that respondents who intended to oppose the application had to deliver notice of opposition and an answering affidavit by 16:00 on 30 November 2021. He further ruled that applicants and respondents had to file heads of argument by 13:00 on 1 December 2021.

The matter will be heard in Grahamstown and argued virtually at 14:00 on 1 December 2021.

According to the applicants in the matter the seismic exploration activities are prima facie unlawful until Shell has applied for, and obtained, the necessary Environmental Authorisation in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA). 

“We also believe that the decision-making process amounts to unjust administrative action since interested and affected parties were not informed of the granting of the exploration right or given an opportunity to appeal it. The public were also not notified of the two applications to renew the exploration right,” the applicants said in a joint statement.

Shell’s Wild Coast blasting will mean guns fired every ten seconds

If the blasting goes ahead, the vessel would for five months, fire air guns every 10 seconds through 6,011km² of ocean surface, firing extremely loud shock wave emissions that penetrate through 3km of water and 40km into the Earth’s crust below the seabed. Marine life on the sensitive Wild Coast would be disturbed and destroyed with many sea creatures like whales, dolphins, seals, penguins, sharks and even crabs and tiny shellfish being negatively impacted by the blasts in the coming months.  The Wild Coast’s pristine beaches and biodiversity attract millions of tourists every year. Seismic surveys have been linked to decreased sightings of marine life and decreased catch rates for commercial fishing. 

The applicants are concerned that the planned seismic survey, and activity thereafter will have direct and dire impacts on the social, economic and cultural rights, and ultimately the right to self determination of the communities of eXolobeni, Nqamakwe and Port Saint Johns, which depend heavily on eco-tourism and fishing for livelihoods and subsistence, and who safeguard this land as sacred and deeply connected to their identity and heritage. 

“The needs and rights of these communities, the stewards of our seas, land and biodiversity, far outweigh the selfish interests of companies like Shell,” the applicants said.

The applicants said they would put expert evidence before the court to expose how irrational and socially unjust it is for Shell to continue looking for more oil and gas reserves when the reserves already discovered cannot be used without causing catastrophic climate change. This was especially problematic in light of the Dutch court ruling ordering Shell to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 47% within this decade, they said.