The Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE) has revealed that the seismic surveys to be conducted by Shell and Impact Africa Limited off the coast of South Africa have been authorised and will go ahead.
In a statement on Monday responding to “concerns” against the move, the DFFE said the seismic survey has been authorised and will take place from next month until February 2022.
“The impact of the seismic survey to be undertaken by Shell and Impact Africa has been authorised under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 2002 (Act No. 28 of 2002), (MPRDA),” said the DFFE.
Under section 39(2) of the Act, an environmental management plan has to be submitted to assess and evaluate the environmental impacts of the activity.
Oceans Not Oil – led by founder Janet Solomon – is running a petition to stop Shell’s planned seismic survey in search of oil or gas deposits from Morgan Bay to Port St Johns.
The Oceans Not Oil petition opposing the exploration has gained traction and had by last week amassed more than 84 000 signatures.
Oceans Not Oil is calling for a moratorium on all offshore oil and gas development to protect marine wildlife and environmental sustainability.
Earlier this month Oceans Not Oil said: “We need your urgent action” by signing “this petition to support our call on Honourable Barbara Creecy, minister of environmental affairs to withdraw the approval of this application”.
However, the DFFE said: “The minister of minerals resources and energy is the minister responsible for the administration of the MPRDA, the minister responsible for environmental affairs is, therefore, not mandated to consider the application or to make a decision on the authorisation of the seismic survey.”
The DFFE added: “It should be noted that since the coming into effect of the One Environment System on 8 December 2014, the application process for the seismic surveys was finalised.
“All decisions made under the MPRDA at the time remain valid and binding until set aside by a court of law.”