On 30 May, small-scale fishing communities and environmental activists returned to the High Court in Gqeberha to hear the arguments for the case against Shell to stop seismic blasting on the Wild Coast.

This comes after an interdict was granted last year preventing Shell from undertaking any seismic activity on the coast until Part B of the case was heard.

In Part B of the application, the court will determine whether Shell’s exploration right was granted lawfully and whether they are required an Environmental Authorisation (EA) under National Environmental Management Act (NEMA).

In December 2021, Shell announced it will start seismic blasting in search of oil and gas deposits from Morgan Bay to Port St Johns and it was immediately rejected by small-scale fishing communities on the coast.

The impact of extractive development will negatively affect the livelihood activities of small-scale fishers who depend on the natural resources of the sea.

Environmental groups, local communities and small-scale fishers have now returned to court for Part B of the case.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) awarded seismic exploration rights to Shell last year. Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi (representing the environmental groups and coastal communities) argued against this decision on the basis that, Shell did not meaningfully consult the local communities that would be affected by this development and therefore, obtained Environmental Authorisation (EA) illegally.

Shell argued that, a notification in the newspaper was adequate consultation under the old Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) and is equivalent to an EA under the One Environmental System.

The court will determine whether Shell’s exploration right was lawfully awarded given the lack of consultation with communities and whether they required an environmental authorisation obtained under the NEMA.

After the 2-day hearing, the court adjourned the matter and judgement is reserved.

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