The Green Connection and affected small-scale fishers say they are disappointed (but not surprised) with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s (DMRE) approval of TotalEnergies’ Deep Western Orange Basin (DWOB) Oil and Gas drilling application on the West Coast. The Green Connection says it will appeal the decision.
The Green Connection’s Community Outreach Coordinator Neville van Rooy says, “The onslaught by the oil and gas industry on our ocean environment continues, even though these activities could worsen the climate crisis, in addition to potentially harming marine ecosystems, which in turn could threaten fisher and other coastal livelihoods. The ocean is important for climate change mitigation, but it is vital to the many coastal communities who depend on it. This is why we must defend it.”
According to van Rooy, “As we see climate change get worse, how can we still look for more fossil fuels? Oil and gas both emit carbon dioxide when burnt and should no longer be seen as desirable energy options. According to reports from the International Energy Agency (IEA) the world already has enough, from current reserves and from projects already approved. We do not need to look for more oil and gas because we should be making the transition to sustainable energy sources.”
“However, with the Climate Change Bill finally coming into effect, maybe now South African civil society will have climate-conscious laws on our side when it comes to stopping developments that will worsen climate change and which threaten food security and people’s right to make an honest living,” says van Rooy.
Comments from small-scale fishers:
“We have had enough of these international companies who come to exploit our oceans,” says Priscilla Abrahams, a fisherwoman from St Helena Bay on the West Coast.
“Our communities do not benefit from these projects at all. Instead, it will negatively impact the employment of the men and women in our fisher communities because fish stocks will be affected, yet we have been depending on the ocean for our livelihoods, for generations.
The government must understand that these oil and gas projects will affect our ability to feed our families and pay for our children’s education. This is why we fight! They do not talk to the communities who will be affected by their decisions, nor do they have any clue or care about the lives of the fisher communities.”
Carmelita Mostert, a fisherwoman with Coastal Links Saldanha Bay says, “We invite the President to come talk to the local fisher communities, to see how we live; to see how we depend on the ocean for our livelihoods and our way of life. We are very unhappy that Total has been given authorisation to drill our ocean for oil and gas. We are not happy that government is making decisions without consulting with the local fisher communities in a meaningful way. It is the communities who vote political parties into positions to ensure that our voices are heard. But they don’t hear us.”
Riaan Coetzee, a fisher from the West Coast says, “My family is a family of fishers. For many generations we have relied on the ocean for our livelihoods. The government does not respect our culture and they do not respect our traditions and livelihoods. We are not happy with the choices and decisions of our government regarding our livelihoods and wellbeing, and that of our oceans.”
Coastal Links’ Chairperson, Ntsindiso Nongcavu says, “As fishers from the Eastern Cape, we want the West Coast fishers to know that we are together in this struggle. We must stand up and fight for our rights that is being ignored by government, with their seismic surveys that kill marine productivity.
Coastal communities depend on tourism, farming and fishing; drilling in the ocean will negatively affect people’s livelihoods and food sovereignty. The government must respect our ways of living and our cultures. They need to start listening to our voices because we are the same people that voted for them to be in power – to serve us. Not to put profit before us.”