Oil and gas explorations off the east coast of South Africa have been suspended after a complaint was laid over the impact of underwater sound pollution on sea life. Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA) halted seismic surveys pending dialogue between the relevant international oil firms and the environmentalist that lodged the complaint about the alleged out-of-season tests.
“Local environmental consultant Paul Martin complained to PASA over non-compliance with an environmental management programme,” reported IOL.
Oil companies build 3D maps of the seabed by bouncing sound waves off of the seafloor to detect deposits. These tests can disrupt the seasonal humpback whale migration if they are conducted at the wrong time of year.
The environment management programme allows for these surveys to be conducted from January to mid-March, but reports suggest that explorers had started in December.
“We all want sustainable development, but if at stage one those involved aren't going to comply with what is in their authorisation, what trust do we have in them?” said a furious Martin to AFP.
Anglo-Dutch Shell and London-based NewAge African Global Energy are among the 5 international companies that have licences for seismic surveys along the east coast from Jeffreys Bay to the Wild Coast.
By Jenni McCann