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Are The Risks Linked to Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration Worth More Than Marine Life and People’s Livelihoods?

The Green Connection
The Green Connection
After more than a decade since the start of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill catastrophe, we still find ourselves being pushed backwards into harmful fossil fuels (particularly offshore oil and gas) instead of transitioning to renewable energy. 20 April 2010 marked one of the darkest days in modern history as an oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, releasing a 1000 oil barrels into the ocean, killing marine life and ruining coastal livelihoods. The rig belonged to American company Transocean and was leased by BP. However, even with overwhelming evidence from around the world about dire constraints of offshore oil and gas, countries still find themselves being stuck on fossil fuels. Just consider the recent unlawful attempts to conduct seismic surveys off the Wild Coast and West Coast, in search for offshore oil and gas. However, in our experience, small-scale fishers are having to fight for opportunities to raise their many concerns regarding developments of offshore oil and gas in South Africa’s coastline.

Coastal communities protested against seismic surveys in the Wild Coast and West Coast
Coastal communities protested against seismic surveys in the Wild Coast and West Coast
Small-scale fisher from Coastal Links Port St. John’s and a Green Connection Legacy graduate Ntsindiso Nongcavu says, “Communities are not being consulted regarding developments that pose significant threats to our environment. Oil and gas exploration, as well as opening of mines, will not benefit the people and as small-scale fishers, we have seen in other parts of the world how livelihoods and nature are being damaged due to extraction of resources in an unsustainable manner. Our communities have decided to unite and speak against offshore oil and gas for the protection of oceans, for current and future generations.”
The Deep Water Horizon disaster should serve as a lesson to any country looking to invest in oil and gas, along with the accumulating effects of climate change and global warming. Disadvantaged communities will likely face more - dire consequences if history repeats itself. The research proves that oil and gas spills would have severe negative impacts to those who depend on the ocean for  survival.
Activists and Civil Society Organizations protest against seismic surveys in the Wild Coast
Activists and Civil Society Organizations protest against seismic surveys in the Wild Coast
“For someone who has been doing activism work my whole life, communities have always looked after our natural resources by practicing sustainable fishing methods to avoid overfishing. However, if oil and gas exploration happens in our oceans, our livelihoods will be disrupted and the risks it comes with it would be unbearable for those people whose lives depend on fishing,” says Solene Smith, a small-scale fisher with Coastal Links Langebaan.
According to Andy Pienaar, a local eco-justice activist from Kommagas in Northern Cape, “The mining of natural resources will only degrade the land and oceans. Our communities cannot afford to live through oil and gas spills or blowouts, nor can they continue to fight off the ongoing violation of their environmental rights, due to them not being consulted about decisions regarding their environment.”
Protection of oceans, against offshore oil and gas exploration should not be compromised as half of earth’s oxygen comes from oceans. Also, as a country that is one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, we should begin the transition to renewable energy to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
For more information about The Green Connection and Who Stole Our Oceans campaign, subscribe to our newsletter and follow our social media platforms.
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