'Largest beach protest SA has ever seen' planned against Shell's seismic survey

A nationwide protest against Shell's seismic survey has been planned for Sunday.
A nationwide protest against Shell's seismic survey has been planned for Sunday.
Image: SUPPLIED

Thousands of South Africans will gather simultaneously in four major cities on Sunday to voice their objection to Shell's seismic testing off the Wild Coast.

In Johannesburg, protesters are set to gather outside Shell's headquarters in Bryanston, while those in coastal provinces will hit the beaches to voice their disdain.

The protest campaign has been led by environmental group Oceans Not Oil, which on Monday delivered more than 18,000 written objections and a list of 314,361 signatures to the “We Object to Shell and CGG Seismic Surveys on RSA Coast” petition to the Kloof, Durban, branch of environmental assessors SLR Consulting, appointed by Shell.

Daron Mann speaks to Gary Koekemoer from the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa, which has called on the government to immediately halt all seismic exploration off the nation's coastline citing recent research that shows the incredible ecological devastation it could cause.

“SA citizens believe that there is more at stake than just a few threatened species, but rather evidence of a clear divergence of goals between the department of minerals, resources and energy and department of forestry, fisheries and the environment in terms of climate goals and obligations,” said Oceans Not Oil.

Dre Beeby, an Oceans Not Oil affiliate, said the purpose of Sunday's protest is “to demand our government revoke these permissions given to them.

“This will be by far the largest beach protest SA has ever seen.”

The survey has been widely criticised. Oceans Not Oil, which describes itself as “the public’s voice against offshore oil and gas development”, is promoting a campaign to stop the mapping of the ocean along the Wild Coast.

Shell says the seismic survey was approved by the government.

Oceans Not Oil says the government’s Operation Phakisa, which focuses on exploring the economic potential of SA’s oceans, is driving Shell’s exploration.

Shell spokesperson Pam Ntaka told the Sunday Times the company is “aware of the growing concerns and calls for protests and we acknowledge all the different views”.

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