A giant puppet of a Snoek, a type of common local Mackerel, at a 2021 Cape Town protest against Shell seismic blasting. Photo Credit: Rodger Bosch/AFP

Environment South Africa25. September 2022

Oil Drilling Ban: Good News for People, Earth and Sea

A multinational oil and gas company saw its exploration rights for fossil fuels revoked in South Africa since the polluting activity is considered too risky for the environment, marine life, and the local population.

“Allowing Shell and the government to continue exploring for oil and gas and other fossil fuels would be detrimental to everybody’s lives and to the life of the planet,” states Sinegugu Zukulu, Wild Coast Programme Manager. “Winning means a sustainable life on this planet.”

The use of seismic blasting – which consists of firing high-volume airguns to map the seafloor that generates shock waves that penetrates the waters and the Earth’s crust under the seabed – across 6,000 square kilometers along the Wild Coast could be highly detrimental to marine life. Indeed, the deafening blast – up to 250 decibels – can cause hearing loss, compromise essential behaviors like breeding and feeding, and mask communication between individual dolphins and whales. Oil and gas drilling can also have devastating environmental consequences such as the risk of oil spills and an increase in emissions. With that in mind, since the affected communities hadn’t been previously consulted, the harm to local fishing communities was not taken into account, and cultural and spiritual rights were discarded, the Eastern Cape high court revoked Shell’s exploration rights.


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