Shell’s ‘safe’ seismic survey off coast of Eastern Cape is defended by Petroleum Agency.

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While environmentalists and concerned individuals have warned that a proposed seismic study by Shell will be damaging to marine life, the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA) has stated that there is no global data to back this up.

PASA has released a fact sheet on seismic surveys, with Shell planning to perform a study off the Eastern Cape coast starting on December 1 for the next four to five months.

The survey will take place 20 kilometers offshore and will cover an area of around 6 000 km2 between Port St Johns and Morgans Bay.

Seismic surveying entails using airguns to fire sound pulses into the water; when these sound waves reach the seafloor, they are reflected back, and specific equipment is used to read the information in order to map out the bottom and discover oil or gas reserves.

Marine animals use sound to travel, find food, escape predators, and even find mates, according to one of the difficulties presented. Dr Judy Mann of the South African Association for Marine Biological Research published an essay earlier this month claiming that international seismic surveys have had severe effects on marine life, from plankton to whales.

Janet Solomon’s documentary, Becoming Visible, shows how seismic surveys have caused temporary hearing loss in certain animals, as well as tissue damage and stress.

Extinction Rebellion is a movement dedicated to the abolition of Seismic surveys, according to Cape Town, could “kill or harm” marine species in the area.

Some members of the public have joined placard rallies, and more than 300,000 people have signed a petition against the survey.

There have also been demands to boycott Shell service stations throughout the holiday season, and a gasoline firm, Express Petroleum, recently announced that it will de-brand from Shell and will now get product from alternate sources because it does not support or participate in the seismic survey.

Story by : Norvisi Mawunyegah