Ocean lovers protest against offshore drilling

Last Saturday more than 50 kayakers, swimmers and surfers took to Clifton Fourth Beach to shore up support against the oil and gas drilling planned to take place on the KwaZulu-Natal coast.

The Oceans Not Oil protesters at fourth beach ahead of their plunge into the cold waters.

Barbara Creecy, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheriess, gave the green light to ENI and Sasol for their exploratory oil and gas drilling to the dismay of protesters, specifically Oceans Not Oil, an organisation that is strongly opposed to deep sea drilling.

“We are standing in solidarity with Oceans Not Oil, an NGO opposed to this deep sea drilling,” said supporter Pearlie Joubert.

“We don’t want this drilling to happen because it will destroy the marine life. Our oceans are connected and it will cause so much harm to the sea and the marine life. We want the minister to look at using green energy and to protect our natural resources. We cannot jeopardise our coast looking for hydrocarbons that have already brought on global warming and compromised our seas,” she said.

Ms Joubert added that their petition to stop the offshore drilling already had more than 15 000 signatures.

From left, Tasha Mentasty, Diony Lalieu and Philippa Green ahead of an early morning protest/surf at Fourth Beach.

On the day protesters also gathered at Simon’s Town Seaforth beach as well as at Richards Bay and Scottburgh beach, the KZN coastal towns where the proposed offshore drilling is scheduled to take place.

“We need to create awareness of what is going on. We need to protect our coasts, our seas, and to be more conscious of what is happening. So we are here to raise that awareness,” said surfing instructor Tasha Mentasty.

“I think a lot of awareness needs to be brought up about the creatures that need our voices to be heard to protect them. People need to understand the impact and destruction that this seismic activity can cause,” said Diony Lalieu, a research psychologist and founder of Ocean Pledge, an NGO advocating the health of the oceans.

Besides the deep sea drilling, protesters also highlighted the need to keep the beaches unpolluted.

“We have to preserve the ocean. There’s so much plastic floating around. We use the ocean so we have clean it,” said kayaker Tim Wege.

“It’s my home, it’s our home. We’ve got to keep it clean, we’ve got to keep it safe. I’ll do anything to keep it safe,” said Ram Barkai, a world record holder in ice-swimming.

The Oceans Not Oil protesters in the waters off Clifton Fourth Beach.