On 1 September, the High Court in Makhanda ruled against Shell’s exploration right to conduct seismic surveys on the Wild Coast of South Africa. The court ruled that Shell’s oil and gas exploration right was granted unlawfully.

The case sought to examine the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s decision to grant Shell and Impact Africa an exploration right, allowing them to undertake seismic surveys off South Africa’s Wild Coast in search of oil and gas.

Small-scale fishing communities on the Wild Coast with the support of Legal Resources Centre, argued that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) neglected to take into account the possible harm to the livelihoods of the fishers, the impact on their cultural and rights, and the contribution of oil and gas production to climate change when issuing the exploration right.

The courts also found that the Integrated Coastal Management Act, which mandates that the interests of the entire community, including fishers and marine species, be taken into account, was not taken into account by DMRE when granting the exploration permit.

Fishing communities play a curial role in food security and depend on the natural marine resources for their livelihoods. It is imperative that coastal communities are meaningfully consulted on developments that will impact their livelihoods.

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