Close To 200 People Rise At Crack of Dawn to Protest the Arrival of Shell’s Seismic Monster, Amazon Warrior
On Sunday morning, (21 November 2021), before the crack of dawn, nearly 200 concerned environmental defenders took to the Waterfront to get a glimpse of Shell’s seismic testing vessel, Amazon Warrior, as it made its way into Cape Town harbour. The vessel travelled down the West coast of Africa, on its way to the Wild Coast, to conduct seismic surveys for an estimated five (5) months. The Green Connection’s Strategic Lead Liziwe McDaid says, “We were expecting a small contingent of about fifteen (15) or so people to show up to protest against this ship, commissioned by Shell to conduct seismic testing off the Wild Coast, but these numbers, this early on a precious Sunday morning, demonstrates that people are adamant that they want change.”
According to the SLR environmental consultants appointed by Shell, “ that Shell (the Operator) is planning to undertake this seismic survey off the East Coast under an approved Environmental Management Programme (EMPr) which has undergone public consultation as part of the 2013 EMPr process undertaken in terms of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act and as part of the 2020 EMPr compliance audit process undertaken in terms of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2014. As per the EMPr requirements, a 30-day seismic survey notification was distributed to the public. SLR Consulting was appointed by Shell to distribute this notification on its behalf. All comments received will be collated and shared with the Operator.”
On 10 November 2021, the Green Connection wrote to SLR asking for all the relevant permits, but SLR has just referred our letter to Shell, and we are still waiting for their response.
She says, “The reason we are unhappy with this idea is that Shell has used a legal loophole, no environmental impact assessment was required in 2013. Now in 2021, this authorisation is being used to justify their actions. No meaningful public participation is needed, yet the seismic survey will have an impact on marine life and subsequently could impact the lives and livelihoods of the fisher communities who depend on the ocean’s resources. How can our government allow a corporation to do this without any accountability?”
“It is also quite appropriate that today is World Fisheries Day because we have a strong message for the Shell Corporation, ‘Stop messing up our planet. By causing harm to the ocean, the knock-on effect is that the livelihoods of our small-scale fishing communities could be affected. The time has come to completely change your business model because fossil fuels are the past and only enriching a few, while climate change is real and harming nature as well as the thousands of people who depend on a healthy environment for their livelihoods..”
“It is ludicrous, with all the credible information and the scientific evidence, that anyone can still claim that any kind of oil and gas drilling is in any way good for the planet. And if we don’t need any oil and gas drilling, then we don’t need to look for more oil and gas, and so we don’t need any more seismic surveys. This is a time for these corporations to shift from being fossil fools to working with the people to move forward to a just transition to renewable energy sources,” says McDaid.
An environmental justice organisation – which works with small scale fishing communities to ensure they are equipped to advocate for their own rights and that of the environment they depend on – The Green Connection says it is particularly concerned about the timing of this seismic survey phase, which is understood to still fall within the migration season for hump-backed whales and could also endanger juvenile turtles coming down the coast in the Agulhas current into survey area over the five (5) month period.
Shell’s own 2013 EMPr states that that they should try to “avoid surveying during December when humpback whales may still be moving through the area on their return migrations.”