The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) approved three generation licences for floating powership provider Karpowership SA despite the ongoing legal battle and environmental concerns around the deal.

Various environmental organisations around South Africa have strongly opposed the deal and the use of fossil fuel energy.

On 21-22 September 2021, The Green Connection (GC) hosted its first ever Oceans Tribunal which is part of their ‘Who Stole Our Oceans’ campaign.

It was held online but the main event was hosted at Double Tree Hotel in Cape Town, with satellite locations in various coastal communities.

The two-day tribunal aimed at raising peoples’ concerns about offshore oil and gas mining that threatened the livelihoods of small-scale fishing communities.

The first day included a panel that focused on the blue economy and sustainable ocean-based governance. Among those speaking at the event were attorney Wilmien Wicomb (specialising in local fishing knowledge and rights), Patrick Bond (professor of political economy), environmental justice activist Anabel Lemos and scholar and social justice activist Bernedette Muthien.

The second day of the tribunal brought several coastal communities, civil society organisations and multidisciplinary professions together to give testimonies on the challenges of oil and gas mining in small-scale fishing communities and how it has threatened the livelihoods of local people.

Carmelita Mostert, from the coastal community of Saldanha was present at the tribunal and testified on behalf of her community.

“I am stunned by Nersa’s decision. We are on record to government and in the media, that we do not want the Karpowerships anchored off our shores for 20 years. It will scare away our fish and do who knows what to the marine life. And when that happens, we will starve to death. I am not being dramatic. This is a real consequence for coastal communities” she says.

An esteemed jury panel – including Nnimmo Bassey (Nigeria), Professor Loretta Feris (South Africa), Allison Tilley (South Africa) and Jesu Rethinam Christy (India) – listened to all the presentations and will consider the impacts that the oil and gas industry, will have on coastal livelihoods.

Thereafter, they will make recommendations for a sustainable and inclusive way forward.

The recommendations will be shared with government in hopes that they will transition from fossil fuel energy to renewable energy and safeguard our oceans and the people who rely on it for their lives.

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