KwaZulu Natal north coast:. Picture: SUPPLIED
KwaZulu Natal north coast:. Picture: SUPPLIED

The KwaZulu-Natal fishing community has launched a campaign against gas and oil exploration along the coastline.

They say government permission allowing seismic drilling tests will destroy the livelihood of about 12‚000 subsistence fisher people.

In 2017, the Petroleum Agency of SA reportedly granted US company Schlumberger a licence to conduct a 3D seismic survey in South African waters.

South Durban Community Environmental Alliance head Desmond D’Sa said the group wanted to send a clear message to the oil cartel that they would not allow them to destroy the KwaZulu-Natal coastline.

"You have destroyed other parts of the world‚ don’t destroy us‚ our fishing reserves‚ our food‚ our benefits to our homes and families. We are today launching the project called Fish Not Oil. We can’t eat oil and we can’t eat money‚ but we can eat fish and sell fish to feed our families," he said.

"By government allowing oil companies who have destroyed the Gulf of Mexico to come and destroy our coast is not on. The government should have done a survey among fishermen."

Fishing communities are unique. There are thousands of fishermen in Durban who live off fishing‚" said D’Sa.

"People have spotted seismic testing boats on the Indian Ocean. There has been no consultation and it has a huge impact on communities."

Nnimmo Bassey‚ director of health at Mother Earth Foundation in Nigeria‚ said he had been collaborating with the alliance to build a campaign with fisher people across the continent.

"Our fisheries are being assaulted by destructive activities and mining and fishermen are being restricted from certain fishing grounds. In Nigeria, we have severe pollution of our waters in the oilfields. That has affected the health of communities and the environment.

"The fisher folk have to go into deep seas to make a catch and not many can afford to do that. Fish are more valuable than oil‚ gold and diamonds. It’s our food security‚" said Bassey.

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