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ONO comments on Upstream Petroleum Bill

Last week President Ramaphosa acknowledged, in the SONA, the need for a “decisive shift in our energy trajectory at a time when humankind faces its greatest existential threat in the form of climate change[i]”.  This threat is man-made and is linked to fossil fuel use[ii]. Profits related to the fossil fuel system come from undervaluing the labour and resources that generate it, leading not only to climate change but also to extreme global wealth inequality. Curtailing emissions from core oil and gas operations must be a first-order priority. Methane leaks pose a serious threat to ambitions that natural gas should play a prominent role in a green transition. The object of this bill is accelerating investments in fossil fuel extraction; therefore this bill is counterintuitive to its object, and delays climate action.

The earliest gas may see production is 2027[iii]. It is implausible to ‘transition’ to gas after a 7-year delay, considering the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that nations around the world, including RSA, must stop burning fossil fuels by 2030 to avoid catastrophic warming. By 2027 climate change will be a fully-fledged reality and gas infrastructure will become a stranded asset.

Herewith our comments and suggested changes, which should not be deemed in support of the objects of the bill:


RECOGNISING that petroleum resources are non-renewable natural resources and INSERT [shall] must contribute to South Africa’s social and economic development;

INSERT: [AFFIRMING the State’s obligation to protect the environment for the benefit of present and future generations, to ensure ecologically sustainable development of mineral and petroleum resources and to promote economic and social development;]

DELETE: [RECOGNISING the need to accelerate petroleum exploration and production; and]

To date, no independent Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) has been conducted for offshore oil and gas development. Negative impacts of the offshore oil and gas sector, namely oil spills and pollution, to biodiversity are well documented and have massive health, wildlife, economic and societal consequences. It is imperative that an independent SEA is conducted for this entire sector (from reconnaissance, exploration, production (including distribution) and decommissioning), in order to inform the formulation and implementation of all government policies and programmes (especially Operation Phakisa), taking into consideration the regional ocean systems. If the DMRE Minister is to remain responsible of Environmental Authorisations, the Minister must conform to and apply environmental best practices


1.    Definitions:
“sustainable development” means the integration of social, economic and environmental factors into planning, implementation and decision making so as to ensure that petroleum resources development serves present and future generations;

  1. This definition cannot be applied to fossil fuel development: 
    The term ‘sustainable development’ masks the real, substantive environmental governance issues.  Sustainable development of petroleum resources, is neither viable nor achievable given that mining and extraction, by its very nature, depletes natural resources and is therefore unsustainable. The various definitions of ‘sustainable use’ in the Constitution and other legislation, and its interpretation by the courts (for example, the Constitutional Court’s decision in the Fuel Retailers case[iv], (2007), the Appeal Court decision in Sasol Oil case[v], 2006); proves that sustainable use as main criteria in environmental legislation is ambiguous at best.  Sustainability is a value-laden concept, which needs to be given normative/value content and a clearer overall governance criterion providing for auditing of indicators and targets.
  2. What is the standard by which sustainable development will be measured?
  3. The Minister needs to clarify the GHG implications of energy transitions for this strategic objective to grow an oil-based offshore economy in South Africa with the assumption that South Africa can burn all of its proven reserves, along with any additional reserves discovered. Also the Minister must explain the contributions that these emissions make to accelerate the pace of change.
  4. DMRE should prepare a complete, independent and timely annual account of South Africa’s cumulative greenhouse gas emissions with the ability to cancel approval for projects that threaten climate goals.
  5. How does DMRE propose to align petroleum exploration, extraction, transportation, bunkering and especially use with the climate resilient development goals and targets of other Ministries?

Objects of Act
2. The objects of this Act are to—

(h)       DELETE and INSERT: give effect to section 24 of the Constitution by ensuring that the nation’s petroleum resources are developed in an orderly DELETE and ecologically sustainable manner while promoting INSERT [equitable] justifiable social and economic development;

Section 24 of the Constitution affords everyone the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being. It cannot be disputed that marine ecosystems are under threat and require protection, for both conservation and for those whose livelihoods are dependent on the ocean. As argued above, extraction of petroleum (a fossil fuel) is a depletive and extractive practice, therefore in no way an ecologically sustainable practice.  

Interpretation of Act
4. (1)   When interpreting a provision of this Act, any reasonable interpretation which is consistent with the objects of this Act must be preferred over any other interpretation which is inconsistent with such objects.

(2)   In so far as the common law is inconsistent with this Act, this Act prevails.

It is not reasonable to be enabling high greenhouse gas emitting projects to develop for the next 40 years or foreseeable future. The reasonableness of the objects of this bill is debateable, given the science pertaining to fossil fuel usage. This bill is parachronistic, and will become more and more inconsistent with the provisions of Section 24 of the Constitution and of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), which overarch this bill. Interpretation will ultimately consider what is fair, equitable, and just and there will come a time when the common law imperatives will need to prevail.

Legal nature of exploration right or production right, and rights of holders thereof
5. (3)  Subject to this Act, any holder of an exploration right or production right may—


[(f)       subject to the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998), obtain the necessary Environmental Authorisations.]

Prohibition relating to illegal acts

6.         No person may conduct technical co-operation operations or studies, reconnaissance operations, explore for and produce any petroleum or commence with any work incidental thereto on any block or blocks without

(a) an environmental authorisation, DELETE[where applicable].

No phase of mining should be exempt from an Environmental Authorisation, especially in the case of reconnaissance (seismic surveys) in the offshore environment. 

Seismic surveys have the potential to exert significant deleterious effects, both at short range and long range[vi]on the physical health, behaviour, distribution, communication, feeding, and social dynamics of marine mammals, particularly cetaceans.  There is extensive scientific literature documenting the effects of underwater noise, including oil exploration seismic arrays, on marine organisms, in particular marine mammals[vii],[viii],[ix],[x],[xi],[xii],[xiii].

These effects can include hearing loss (temporary or permanent), masking of communication, physiological stress, acoustic resonance in air cavities, organ rupture, behavioural responses, avoidance of critical habitat areas, decompression sickness, and mass strandings[xiv],[xv]

Effects of air gun pulses on fish can range from serious injury at short ranges, where seismic noise has deafened fish with no recovery after 58 days[xvi]; massive hearing trauma in four squid species[xvii], increased stress signals[xviii],[xix],[xx],[xxi]; disruption in schooling and migration[xxii];disruption of homing or orientation[xxiii]; decreased feeding efficiency[xxiv]; and reduced catch rates of 40-80% in areas more than 30 km from seismic surveys[xxv],[xxvi],[xxvii].

In so far, it appears that there is support by the State for seismic survey activities to take place on an annual basis, creating chronic underwater noise pollution in the oceans for months at a time. Stress in marine mammals related to anthropogenic noise exposure has been conclusively proven, and prolonged exposure to noise stressors is known to cause significant impacts to marine mammals [xxviii].

The problem of noise pollution through oil and gas development is a significant threat to biodiversity and its damaging effects to marine species and ecosystems must be recognised and addressed by:        

  1. ensuring that seismic surveys are subjected to environmental impact assessments that address synergistic and cumulative effects on marine biodiversity;
  2. considering and adopting all measures necessary to prevent, reduce and control ocean noise pollution in the marine environment during mining activities. 

Division of Republic, territorial waters, continental shelf and exclusive economic zone into blocks
8.         (1)For the purposes of this Act, the Minister must, by notice in the Gazette, divide the Republic including territorial waters, exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf into numbered blocks.

(2)The size of the block or blocks in respect of existing permits or rights granted before the coming into effect of this Act shall not be reduced as a result of section (1).

In line with the principles of integrated environmental management as determined in NEMA, the criteria for the division of Republic, territorial waters, continental shelf and exclusive economic zone into blocks needs to be carefully scrutinised in terms of whether it impacts on the rights of individuals, specific communities or the public at large. 8.(1) and (2) pertain to the public commons and affect all South Africans, what public participation process will be provided?

Composition of Board
15.       (1)The Minister must appoint a Board of the Petroleum Agency consisting of at least eight members;

(2)The Board must consist of the following—

(c)one independent person with expertise in the practical application of a relevant natural science discipline;

This could potentially be a geologist with no environmental expertise or interest. A natural scientist on the Board should have an environmental interest and knowledge. Suggested term would be ‘Biologist’ or ‘Ecologist’ or ‘Environmentalist’.

Transitional provisions and savings
24.       (11)INSERT:Anything done before the commencement of this Act under or in terms of a provision repealed by this Act must be regarded, unless clearly inappropriate, INSERT:[such as pending or existing objections or appeal processes], to have been done under or in terms of the corresponding provision of this Act,


Application for permits or rights
26.       (4)In order to give effect to objectives referred to in section 2 (j) and (k) the Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, invite seismic survey operators to lodge applications for reconnaissance permits to conduct regional seismic survey over multiple blocks, subject to terms and conditions to be agreed upon.

As argued above, having repeated seismic surveys is environmentally damaging and having them undertaken surveys repeatedly, is not acceptable, not in terms of international best practice and certainly not in line with industry standards (

Processing of applications lodged in terms of section 26
27.      (3)The Petroleum Agency must accept an application if
INSERT: [(g)   environmentally sound] 

Consultation with interested and affected parties

Interested and affected parties – requires a definition. In the draft Amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Regulations, 2019 (no. 1554, 28 November 2019) the definition was changed in which the proposed definition of Interested and Affected Parties is limiting in the extreme and should be abandoned for that reason alone.

Development activities are not only supposed to be sustainable in the eyes of the proponent, but also in the view and perception of the public and local communities affected by the activities. Mining produces air, water, sea and soil pollution, the extent of which can widely impact communities and environments, and, with the prospect of climate change, these impacts can be considered planetary. 

28. (2)            If a person objects to the granting of an exploration right or production right, the Petroleum Agency—
(a) must refer the objection to the Petroleum Development and Environmental

Committee to consider the objections and to advise the Minister thereon; and

Furthermore, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) possesses only appellate jurisdiction on mining EA/EIAs with the result that the DEFF does not properly scrutinize applications for authorisation. Accordingly, the environmental authorisation process is not subjected to the expected and requisite inquiry or environmental protection provided for by NEMA, amounting to statuary bias.

Functions of Petroleum Development and Environmental Committee
30.       The committee must—

(a)advise the Minister on objections received in terms of section 28(2); and

(b)make recommendations to the Minister in terms of section 80(5).

CORRECTION:(b) There is no section 80(5). This needs correcting to be appropriate.

INSERT: [(c) If objections received are on environmental grounds, the committee must also advise and make recommendations to the DEFF minister.]

Composition of Petroleum Development and Environmental Committee
31.            (2)The Committee must consist of not more than 14 members appointed by the Minister and must include—

(c)representatives from the departments of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Affairs, Transport, in the province to which the application relates.

This is unclear – does each province have a representative from each department?

Application for reconnaissance permit
41.(6)       Notwithstanding subsection (1), the Minister may, subject to subsection (7), by notice in the Gazette, invite applications for regional seismic survey, including in areas that are already subject to a technical co-operation permit, exploration or production right, as the case maybe, in the interest of facilitating the acquisition of regional geo-technical data. 

As argued above, repeated seismic surveys are environmentally harmful. Compounding of cumulative surveys is unacceptable and may affect fisheries.

  1. Studies show that fish catch rates are significantly lowered by noise from air guns indicating that increasing levels of human-produced noise in the ocean can significantly and adversely impact the food supply, employment and economies of a nation. A study commissioned by the Namibian government revealed that an 84% decline in tuna catches (650 tonnes in 2013 from 4,046 tonnes in 2011) was a result of an increase in seismic activity from oil and gas in the Orange River Basin driving tuna from their normal migratory routes[xxix]. McCauley, Fewtrell and Popper (2003)[xxx]found that the ears of fish exposed to an operating air-gun sustained extensive damage to their auditory hair cells (sensory epithelia). The damage was severe, with no hair cell regeneration 58 days after air-gun exposure. This damage was seen at exposure levels that might occur several kilometres away from the air-guns.

Issuing and duration of reconnaissance permit
42. (1)      Subject to subsection (4), the Minister must issue a reconnaissance permit if—

(c)the reconnaissance will not result in unacceptable pollution, ecological degradation or damage to the environment and that the environmental authorisation, where necessary, has been issued;             

  1. Who decides what is regarded as unacceptable pollution? 
  2. What measure is being used to identify this? 
  3. The cumulative effect on the environment of seismic surveys conducted concurrently with multibeam bathymetric surveys has never been properly dealt with in any Environmental Management Programme of past seismic surveys having taken place in South Africa. 

    To illustrate this, and as a result of the current lack of legislative protection, a seismic survey was extended, without consultation, well into the whale migratory season of 2016. I refer to the survey undertaken by Schlumberger, where Environmental Resource Management (ERM) communicated notification of the authorisation by PASA to Interested and Affected Parties on 18 January 2016; Ref: 0314048.  
    The effects of this seismic activity included, inter alia,
    • the first recorded mass stranding of pilot whales which took place within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park;
    • a case of barotrauma in a Trues Beaked Whale;
    • a number of unusual and unprecedented strandings of whales and dolphins; 
    • the highest number of whale strandings in the history of the east coast of South Africa ever has been recorded, during 2016[xxxi].
  4. The provisions of NEMA, and of the Constitution, demands a critical and more thorough review of any suspected risk by all relevant governmental departments and organisations. 

It appears that marine seismic surveys are allowed to be conducted in South Africa as there is an assumption is that impacted species will move away from the sound source[xxxii].  This is not correct as recent studies disprove this assumption[xxxiii]and reveal a growing concern for those animals that are unable to avoid the airgun arrays:

In 2017, McCauley et al[xxxiv]., showed that marine seismic survey air gun operations can kill large swathes of plankton, the basis of the marine food chain, up to 1.2km from the sound source. Within the study area, zooplankton abundance dropped by two-thirds. Furthermore, all larval krill, the primary food source of whales, were killed. Considering the enormity of the PGS survey area (227 584 km2), the Agulhascurrent which can move at meters per second, and the increase in biomass distribution in this area, it would therefore be prudent that up-to-date and evidence based science be considered. 

Baby turtles are entirely at the mercy of ocean currents and cannot evade sounds at levels which may cause injury, nor can they avoid these huge airgun arrays travelling at 4 – 6 knots. 

It is imperative that there be concerted efforts by the State and those departments tasked with the protection of the environment to prevent any further loss of South Africa’s fish biodiversity. Past President Jacob Zuma, himself reiterated that “fish resources are becoming more limited and are also being exploited to the maximum”[xxxv]. This should involve a particular scrutiny of the apparent partisan/insular objective of oil and gas development at a time when there is a global divestment[xxxvi]from the oil and gas industry and pursuit of renewable energy. 

(4)      A reconnaissance permit issued in terms of subsection (1) is—
(b)valid for a period not exceeding one year for onshore reconnaissance operation and period not exceeding two years for offshore reconnaissance operation;

Clarity is needed regards limits on operational periods and permit validity. For such an ecologically destructive practice to be operational for two-years offshore is totally unacceptable, for ecological and commercial fishing reasons, explained above, and is tantamount to protracted auditory trauma for many species.

(7)       Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (6), the Minister may grant a reconnaissance permit over an area with an existing reconnaissance permit, if the applicant applies different methods and technologies for petroleum data acquisition that will advance petroleum exploration.

This should only be permitted provided the past and current methodology of seismic surveys is improved in terms of environmental impact. New technology and innovation should be recognised and given preference over others if environmentally more benign. 

Granting and duration of exploration right
47. (1) (1)Subject to subsection (3), the Minister must grant an exploration right if—
(c)the Minister has issued an environmental authorisation;

To ensure that mines comply with the same environmental impact assessment requirements as all other industries, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) should retain oversight over all mineral/mining activities that influence the environment.

Application for production right
51. (4)            If the Petroleum Agency accepts the application, the Petroleum Agency must, within 14 days of the receipt of the application, notify the applicant in writing to—

(a)consult in the prescribed manner with the landowner, lawful occupier and any interested and affected party;

There is no definition of this term in this Bill and the definition in the draft MRPDA is not acceptable (as outlined above – comments on Section 27). 

Granting and duration of production right
52. (1)            Subject to subsection (3), the Minister must grant a production right if the applicant-

(c)the production will not result in unacceptable pollution, ecological degradation or damage to the environment and an environmental authorisation has been issued;

  1. As stated above: who decides what is regarded as unacceptable pollution? 
  2. What measure is being used to identify this?   

Exemptions from certain provisions of Act
60. (1)            No person other than the State may conduct petroleum activities without a licence or permit, approvals or consents pursuant to this Act.

  1. How does this affect any current or future state owned enterprises, such as PetroSA? 
  2. Would PetroSA be exempt from licence or permit, approvals or consent processes?

Environmental management principles
65. (1)            INSERT: The principles set out in section 2 of the National Environmental Management Act—

(a)apply to all INSERT[reconnaissance], exploration and production operations, as the case may be, and any matter or activity relating to such operation.

(2)Any INSERT[reconnaissance], exploration or production operation must be conducted in accordance with generally accepted principles of sustainable development by integrating social, economic and environmental factors into the planning and implementation of exploration and production projects in order to ensure that exploitation of petroleum resources serves present and future generations.

Environmental authorisations
66. (1)The Minister is the responsible authority for implementing environmental provisions in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, as it relates to exploration, production or activities incidental thereto on an exploration or production area.

The approving authority for oil and gas environmental authorization applications sits with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) instead of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) as prescribed by the Constitution. Environmental authorities are more appropriately placed to consider, issue and ensure compliance with environmental authorisations for mining activities than the DMRE[xxxvii]. This requires review to ensure that the relevant government department’s constitutionally prescribed mandates are not undermined in the interests of expedience or profit by DMRE’s obligations to promote mining, at the cost of sound environmental management.

Approved environmental management programmes and environmental management plans
67. (1)            Incomplete sentence:An environmental management plan or environmental management programme approved in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act No. 28 of 2002) and at the time, of
 [the WHAT –?]coming into effect of the National Environmental Management Act, must be deemed to have been approved and to be an environmental authorisation issued in terms of the National Environmental Management Act.

(2)Notwithstanding subsection (1), the Minister may direct the holder of a right or permit if he or she is of the opinion that the exploration and production operations are likely to result in unacceptable pollution, ecological degradation or damage to the environment, to take any action to upgrade the environmental management plan or environmental management programme to address the deficiencies in the plan or programme.

Our comments pertaining to 42 (1) have relevance here.

Issuing of a closure certificate
68. (10)

CORRECTION NEEDED: The numbering allocation in this section needs attention – There is a double 68 (10) – it is suggested that the second 68 (10) be deleted. 

Minister’s power to remedy environmental damage in certain instances
71(1)            If the Minister directs that measures contemplated in section 70 must be taken to prevent pollution or ecological degradation [INSERT and rehabilitation]of the environment, to address any contravention in the environmental authorisation or to rehabilitate dangerous health or safety occurrences but establishes that- …

Minister’s power to prohibit or restrict exploration or production
75. (3)The Minister may from time to time by notice in the Gazette—

(a)lift a prohibition or restriction made in terms of subsection (1) if the circumstances which caused the Minister so to prohibit or restrict no longer exist; or

The Protected Areas are not the mandate of this Minister. Therefore it is recommended that the specific / affected Minister makes this decision or recommendation, not the DMER Minister. This is an issue of jurisdiction. 

95. (1)            The Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, make regulations regarding—

(c)procedures in respect of appeals lodged under this Act; [INSERT: excluding appeals based on environmental grounds]

(g)the form, conditions, issuing, renewal, abandonment, suspension or cancellation of any environmental authorisation, permit, licence, certificate, permission, receipt or other document which may or has to be issued, granted, approved, required or renewed in terms of this Act; [INSERT: in consultation with the DEFF Minister]

[INSERT]:        (m): relevant ministers should be consulted OR No regulation relating to the environment may be made by the Minister without the concurrence of the Minister of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry

This bill requires more rigorous, expert judgment in evaluating holistic risks to climate change, for the benefit of all.

Photo credit: Benjamin Lowy

[i]State of the Nation Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Parliament, Cape Town.

[ii]IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 151 pp.


[iv]Fuel Retailers Assoc of SA v D-G: Environmental Management, Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation & Environment, Mpumalanga Prov 2007 (6) SA 4 (CC).

[v]MEC for Agriculture, Conservation, Environment & Land Affairs v Sasol Oil (Pty) Ltd 2006 (5) SA 483 (SCA).

[vi]Madsen, P. T., et al. 2006. Quantitative measures of air-gun pulses recorded on sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) using acoustic tags during controlled exposure experiments. Journal of Acoustic society of America120(4): 2366-2379.

[vii]Yazvenko, S. B., McDonald, T. L., Blokhin, S. A., Johnson, S. R., Melton, H. R., Newcomer, M. W., Nielson, R., et al. 2007. Feeding of western gray whales duringa seismic survey near Sakhalin Island. Russia. Environ Monit Assess 134, 93–106.

[viii]Erbe, C., King, A. R. 2009. Modelling cumulative sound exposure around marine seismic.  J Acoust. Soc. Am. 125, 2443–2451. 

[ix]Breitzke, Monika & Bohlen, Thomas. 2010. Modelling sound propagation in the Southern Ocean to estimate the acoustic impact of seismic research surveys on marine mammals. Geophysical Journal International. 181, 818-846. 

[x]Gray, H., van Waerebeek, K. 2011. Postural instability and akinesia in a pantropical spotted dolphin, Stenella attenuata, in proximity to operating airguns of ageophysical seismic vessel. J Nat Conserv19, 363–367.

[xi]Hildebrand, J. 2006. Impacts of anthropogenic sound. in: Ragen, T.J., Reynolds III, J.E., Perrin, W.F., Reeves, R.R., and Montgomery, S. 2006. Marine Mammal Research: Conservation beyond Crisis. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins. p101-123

[xii]Gordon, J., D. Gillespie, J. Potter, A. Frantzis, M. Simmonds, R. Swift, D. Thompson, 2004. A Review of the Effects of Seismic Survey on Marine Mammals.Marine Technology Society Journal, 4, 14-32.

[xiii]Weir, C. R., Dolman, S. J., 2007. Comparative Review of the Regional Marine Mammal Mitigation Guidelines Implemented during Industrial Seismic Surveys,and Guidance Towards a Worldwide Standard. Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy, 10,1–27

[xiv]Hildebrand, J. 2006. Impacts of anthropogenic sound. Pages 101-123 in: Ragen, T.J., Reynolds III, J.E., Perrin, W.F., Reeves, R.R., and Montgomery, S. 2006. Marine Mammal Research: Conservation beyond Crisis. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins

[xv]Gordon, J., D. Gillespie, J. Potter, A. Frantzis, M. Simmonds, R. Swift, D. Thompson, 2004. A Review of the Effects of Seismic Survey on Marine Mammals.Marine Technology Society Journal, 4, 14-32.

[xvi]McCauley, R. D., Fewtrell, J., and Popper, A. N. 2003. High intensity anthropogenic sound damages fish ears. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 113,638–642.

[xvii]André, M., Johansson, T., Delory, E., van der Schaar, M., Morell, M. 2007. Foraging on squid, the sperm whale mid-range sonar. Journal of the Marine Biological Association UK87, 59–67. 

[xviii]Buscaino, F., Filiciotto, G., Buffa, G., Bellante, A.,  Di Stefano, V.,  Assenza, A.,  Fazio, F., Caola, G.,  Mazzola S.,  2010, Impact of an acoustic stimulus on the motility and blood parameters in European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.)and gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata L.)Marine Environmental Research. 69, 136-142

[xix]Graham A. L., Cooke S. J. 2008. The effects of noise disturbance from various recreational boating activities common to inland waters on the cardiac physiology of a freshwater fish, the largemouth bass(Micropterus salmoides). Aquatic Conservation, 18, 1315–1324.

[xx]Santulli A., Modica A., Messina C., Ceffa L., Curatolo A., Rivas G., et al. (1999). Biochemical responses of European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.) to the stress induced by offshore experimental seismic prospecting. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 38, 1105–1114 .

[xxi]Wysocki L.E., Ladich F., Dittami J. 2006. Noise, stress, and cortisol secretion in teleost fishes. Biological Conservation128, 501–8.

[xxii]Sarà, G., Dean, J., D’Amato, D., Buscaino, G., Oliveri, A., Genovese, S., et al. 2007. Effect of boat noise on the behaviour of bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus in the Mediterranean. The Marine Ecology Progress Series. 331, 243–253

[xxiii]Simpson, S. D., Meekan, M. G., Larsen, N. J., McCauley, R. D., Jeffs, A. 2010. Behavioural plasticity in larval reef fish: orientation is influenced by recent acoustic experiences, Behavioral Ecology, 21, 5, 1098–1105,

[xxiv]Purser J., Radford A. N. (2011). Acoustic noise induces attention shifts and reduces foraging performance in three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus). PLoS One, 6, e17478. 

[xxv]Engås A., Løkkeborg S., Ona E. and A.V. Soldal (1996). Effects of seismic shooting on local abundance and catch rates of cod (Gadus morhua) and haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 53, 2238-2249

[xxvi]McCauley R.D. (1994). Seismic surveys. In: Swan, J.M., Neff, J.M., Young, P.C. (Eds.). Environmental implications of offshore oil and gas development in Australia – The findings of an Independent Scientific Review. APEA, Sydney, Australia, p. 695.

[xxvii]Turnpenny, A. W. H., Nedwell, J. R. 1994. The effects on marine fish, diving mammals and birds of underwater sound generated by seismic surveys. FARL Report Reference: FCR 089/94

[xxviii]Wright, A. J., Aguilar-Soto, N., Baldwin, A. L., Bateson, M., Beale, C. M., Clark, C., et al. (2007). Do marine mammals experience stress related to anthropogenic noise? Int. J. Comp. Psychol. 20, 274–316. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00070.2006.

[xxix]Shinovene I. 2013. Govt fears tuna depletion as oil and gas exploration chase fish away, The Nambian, Nambia (25 November 2013) at: =1

[xxx]McCauley, R. D., et al. 2003. High intensity anthropogenic sound damages fish ears.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America113: 638-642.

[xxxi]Available at: Annual Marine Strandings Report for KwaZulu-Natal South Africa 2016.

[xxxii]Boyd, A. Overview of seismic surveys and phosphate mining developments off South Africa’s coasts WG 8 prep-meeting on 22 April 2014, OR Tambo.

[xxxiii]McCauley, R.D., Duncan, A.J., Penrose, J.D., et al. 2000. Marine seismic surveys – a study of environmental implications. APPEA J40, 692–706.

[xxxiv]McCauley, R. D., et al. 2017. Widely used marine seismic survey air gun operations negatively impact zooplankton. Nature Ecology & Evolution1(0195): 8.

[xxxv]Address by President Jacob Zuma to update stakeholders on the implementation of the Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy Programme, 6 October 2017. Available at:

[xxxvi]Sweden committed to phasing out all carbon emissions by 2045, and the country’s largest pension fund divested from six companies that violate the Paris Agreement, including Exxon, Gazprom and TransCanada. Available at:

France stopped granting all licences for oil and gas exploration, and said it will phase out all production by 2040, a major transition towards clean energy being driven by the new Macron government. Available at:

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec in Canada,Stanford University,  Rockefeller Foundation and Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, announced they were officially divesting from all fossil fuels, and the global insurance industry has pulled $20 billion. Available at:

Last year the United Kingdom, France and Finland all agreed to ban the sale of any new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. Available at:;;


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