Legal battle against Shell’s seismic survey is far from over

After losing last week’s court bid, activists believe Shell has begun its seismic survey, which was already set for 1 December.

FILE: The vessel the company’s using essentially shoots loud sonic waves down onto the ocean floor, detecting possible oil and gas reserves. Picture: Robin Utrecht/AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The legal battle to halt oil giant Shell’s seismic survey off South Africa’s wild coast is not over.

On Friday, environmental campaigners lost their bid in the Makhanda High Court to urgently interdict the survey.

And on Sunday, dozens of protests were held across the country's shorelines to raise awareness around the harm the activity may have.

After losing last week’s court bid, activists believe Shell has begun its seismic survey, which was already set for 1 December.

The vessel the company’s using essentially shoots loud sonic waves down onto the ocean floor, detecting possible oil and gas reserves.

Strategic lead for the Green Connection, Liz McDaid, said although advocates couldn't convince the judge of the irreparable damage to the marine ecosystem, it didn’t mean it wasn't still happening.

“There’s enough evidence to show that a high number of animals would be impacted but all of that needs a considered and hard evidence of harm, but with an urgent interdict, that’s extremely difficult.”

In two weeks’ time, another group of legal conservationists will try gathering more evidence as they approach the court for relief again.

“There is another group that is going to take on another interdict. They will have the same high bar to jump but I think they’ll have more evidence that can be brought to the court.”