Oil-seeking seismic ship arrives to hostile national coastal uproar

Amazon Warrior ship in Cape Town harbour.
Amazon Warrior ship in Cape Town harbour.
Image: Ruvan Boshoff

Fossil fuel-hunting seismic survey ship Amazon Warrior entered Eastern Cape waters on Sunday, raising the local and global human temperature as protest action amassed all along the South African coast.

The call from activists — many new to environmental movements — to communities small and large to “go to the beach” from 9am to noon on Sunday — appeared to being heeded from the West Coast around the Cape and up to KwaZulu-Natal as more than a dozen posters flowed through social media, some advertising up to seven different beach venues each.

From Hondeklip Baai to Ballito Bay, activists set up WhatsApp groups and messages whizzed about in what Eastern Cape Wild Women runner Kim van Kets called a “revolution”.

The voices of South Africans vehemently opposed to seismic blasting surveys off the SA coastline are growing loader as citizens begin to take a stand against big oil

Protests were called in London and Johannesburg and there were a few inland places also putting up their hands.

Shell’s share price dropped between 6.3% on the European stock market and 5.3% on the New York Stock exchange.

The Dispatch learnt that lawyers were putting the finishing touches to their papers and donning their gloves for a legal battle that is expected to get going in an Eastern Cape high court this week, but no further details were available.

However, the  Dispatch learnt that Shell was likely to face questions around their government authorisation to carry out seismic blasting and mine the Wild Coast, among other issues.

In East London, where the latest global anti-seismic movement got going among ocean-loving surfers in the Nahoon Reef car park, the protest has also spread to schools, with Lilyfontein and Merrifield schools holding protests in pools and on walks.

On Saturday, eight local bands belted out protest and laments against Shell at a free concert organised by Josh Marnitz of the Travelling Freak Show, Grapefruit Moon and O’Donoghues in Gonubie.

Protesters took to the stage and waved posters calling on Shell oil seekers to depart from SA waters.

Performers Kayla Jain said: “Shell is creating hell in a beautiful place. Don’t let them destroy it.”

Heather Waters said: “Protecting mammals and sea life is close to my heart. Seismic blasting has a negative impact on it all. Let us stand together and protect it from man-made destruction.”

Lucy Luck said: “It is mind-blowing that when we are making great progress with renewable energy, Shell and the government are going to such lengths to use archaic methods to find resources. We have to preserve our pristine coastline for future generations. Go to hell Shell!”.

Steve Daniel said: “Here’s the thing — go off the grid, go electric, wear hemp”, while Dean Burnett of Grey V Train said: “Our coast is a heritage, any damage is a travesty.

Greed and absolute disregard for Earth shows the depths that those who already have so much will go to to pillage and decimate

“Greed and absolute disregard for Earth shows the depths that those who already have so much will go to to pillage and decimate. What is done to our sea is done to us.”

Shell spokesperson Pam Ntaka said they would be commenting late on Sunday but had not responded by time of deadline, and ministers Gwede Mantashe (mineral resources & energy) and Barbara Creecy, (fisheries, forestry and the environment) were unavailable for comment.


The news that Shell plans to conduct a large-scale offshore seismic survey for gas and oil deposits along the Eastern Cape's Wild Coast has drawn criticism from environmental groups and animal rights activists, with one group even threatening to chain naked 'Wild Women' to the ship in protest. Daron Mann speaks to attorney Kim van Kets from Wild Women on the Run's, and Jason Simpson, a chief engineer for controversial international conservation group Sea Shepard.


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