Deep-sea anglers send strong anti-blasting message to Creecy

Scores of creative messages are appearing in opposition to Operation Phakisa gas and oil mining of the ocean such as this one from Rhodes University graduate Steve Pike of veteran online surf magazine, Wavescape.
Scores of creative messages are appearing in opposition to Operation Phakisa gas and oil mining of the ocean such as this one from Rhodes University graduate Steve Pike of veteran online surf magazine, Wavescape.
Image: supplied

A public campaign to stop the seismic blasting ship Amazon Warrior from reaching its next work destination — the Wild Coast — has spurred deep-sea anglers to deliver a stinging letter to forestry, fisheries & environment minister Barbara Creecy.

DispatchLIVE asked Creecy to comment on the letter on Friday, but no response had been received at the time of writing.

She said previously that her department was not involved in the granting of exploration rights to Shell and others by minister Gwede Mantashe’s mineral resources department.

Retired SA deaf swim champion and video producer Mark Roach, of Nahoon, East London, who was interviewed on national television over the protest clip he composed this week, said it had been viewed by 37,000 people on YouTube, 30,000 on Instagram and 6,000 on Facebook.

Among the many spontaneous demonstrations held along the coast, two major protests loom.

On Sunday, a multi-organisation gathering will be held at Cape Town harbour’s Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island to greet the seismic survey ship when it docks.

On December 5, the Amadiba people plan to march north on the beach and south coast residents intend marching south from the Wild Coast Sun, converging at the Mzamba estuary,  according to Amadiba Crisis Committee spokesperson Nonhle Mbuthuma.

She called on the government to “acknowledge the climate crisis” and to withdraw Shell’s licence to mine the Wild Coast oceans.

“More and more expansion of the fossil fuel economy is not a solution to the economic crisis,” Mbuthuma said.

She said profit-before-people mining threatened the livelihoods of coastal people and the ocean ecology.

In a letter to Creecy, the Border Deep Sea Angling Association said it objected to “the manner in which the exploration will be undertaken and to the poorly communicated intentions” of the Shell and others.

The association’s environmental officer, Leon J Hechter, chair Tyrone Gower, and vice-chair John Luef, said it was ready to go to court to get the exploration stopped, but wanted Creecy to first hear its objections.

The association stated:

  • Allowing Shell and others to carry on was in contradiction to the climate change commitments the SA government signed at COP 26 and the Paris agreement;
  • There was no sustainable proof that seismic blasting would not damage the  environment and biodiversity;
  • There was no proof that there would not be damage to adjacent marine protected areas, deep water migration routes, spawning areas of the endemic red steenbras, “wreckfish”, endangered sharks and the “74” fish;
  • The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance had filed a review application in the high court in Pretoria regarding attempts to drill in KwaZulu-Natal in which it claimed there were “unattended deficiencies in a final environmental impact assessment report”;
  • In an accredited report, Wild Ocean executive director Jean Harris found four areas in proximity to the drilling sites which were vulnerable to persistent degradation and damage from day-to-day operational oil leakages and smaller spills.
  • Humpback whales, the annual sardine run, the squid-fishing industry, endangered red steenbras, coastal dolphins, sharks and an array of other sea life “stand to be negativelyaffected”.
  • Cornell University’s K Lisa Yang Centre for Conservation Bioacoustics postdoctoral research associate Michelle Fournet said the final authorisation report for drilling in KwaZulu-Natal failed to model or measure how blasting would affect  a major fish migration corridor and reef formation — coral larvae relied on  reef sounds to determine where to settle. Blasting would disrupt coral settlement, “and thus continued reef building”.
  • Since the exploration was proposed, a significant increase in area of the Amathole Marine Protected Area took place, ostensibly to protect the area against the depredations of marine mining — presumably exploration and subsequent exploitation. The association said seismic blasts would boom through the marine protected areas.

“As BDSAA we regrettably noted your lack of research and reassurance to the communities concerned,” the letter said.




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