South African environmental activists are mounting protests and boycotts against a seismic survey for offshore oil exploration commissioned by the oil giant Shell.
Demonstrations began on Sunday following the arrival of the Amazon Warrior ship in Cape Town to conduct the tests. The ship will fire shock wave emission about 20 kilometers off the eastern Cape coast.
"We don’t need more oil and gas, therefore we feel Shell shouldn’t be doing this at all, " said Liz McDaid, an activist with the environmental watchdog The Green Connection, who is leading the protests.
The survey will produce massive noise that will disrupt the patterns of whale and marine life, activists say
"They must own up to the climate responsibilities," McDaid said of Shell.
A coalition of several environmental and and marine wildlife protection groups joined forces to lead a nationwide boycott of Shell gas stations. They hope the pressure will halt the survey that was given permit approval in 2013.
“We feel this (the boycott) is a good way of putting pressure on the government and the minister to act, and on Shell to withdraw," McDaid said. “December is the holiday season when people are on the road. Just don’t fill up with Shell.”
Shell officials did not respond for a request for comment from VOA. Shell spokesman Pam Ntaka told the Daily Maverick newspaper that public hearings were conducted in 2013 before a permit was issued.
The South African Department of Environment said the permit granted to Shell was issued by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. Shell pledged on its website to limit any impact on the environment during the survey.
Activists want an environmental assessment to be in line with South Africa’s current laws and current sea conditions.
"Seismic blasting of this scale will hurt our whales during breeding seasons, possibly separating mothers from their calves," Michael Wolf, spokesman for the environmental group Extinction Rebellion, told the Daily Maverick.
"Fishing communities are sounding the alarm since the shock waves will also scare off and harm their catch for unknown periods,” he said.
Shell was cited for environmental concerns in its oil drilling project in Nigeria. A Shell subsidiary lost two court cases involving pollution in the Niger Delta, which led to the company being ordered by a Dutch court to pay tens of millions of U.S. dollars to clean up operations.