On 14 February 2021 West Coast small-scale fishing communities with the support of the Legal Resource Centre returned to the High Court to counter the application by Searcher for the judge to reconsider his interim court order handed down on 7 February 2022.
This ‘reconsideration’ application sought to reverse the current interim interdict that prevents Searcher Seismic from continuing their seismic blasting on the West Coast of South Africa. Searcher failed to file answering papers before the court hearing of 7 February 2022, despite having counsel representation during the hearing. This subsequently led to an order for an interim interdict. In yesterday’s sitting, Searcher argued that the order should be reconsidered due to their “absence” in the initial hearing.
West Coast communities argued that the interdict should remain in place and that there is no basis for the Court to reconsider its interim order. reconsideration. They further added that these activities would bring about irreparable damage to the livelihoods of small-scale fishing communities as well as their right to food, nutrition and their ocean-based culture.
“We are encouraged by this ruling by Judge Thulare. Although there is a tough fight up ahead for West Coast communities this is definitely a step in the right direction and clearly gives an indication that the court will not entertain attempts to fiddle with the legal process.
It is clear in the arguments made by Searcher that profits are prized over the livelihoods and wellbeing of fishing communities. The constant emphasis of loss of revenue due to halting of their blasting activities painted a rather grim picture for communities whose life depend of natural resources of the ocean” said Naseegh Jaffer, Director of Masifundise.
“We are happy with this outcome because it means we are a step closer to protecting our oceans and livelihoods. Fishing is our lives we cannot allow anyone to destroy and disturb our natural resources” said Langebaan fisherwoman, Solene Smith.
West Coast communities will be back in court on 24 February 2022 to continue their fight against mining the for oil and gas that is destructive to the ocean environment.