On March 1st, the Western Cape High Court in South Africa halted the marine seismic survey plans for data acquisition by Searcher Seismic off the west coast of South Africa. Searcher Seismic was found guilty for violating the free, prior and informed consent rights and not having put in place and adequate environmental impact assessment of its activities.
The final verdict highlights how the firm put into place a systematic mechanism to avoid consultation with SSF and Ips communities and organizations and consulting only with the large-scale commercial fishery sector. As stated in the verdict, the firm didn’t consider SSF and IPs communities as deem or worthy to be consulted, thus denying their rights and neglecting the potential negative outcome its activities could have had not just on the marine environment but also on the food security of the people living in the area.
Masifundise, member of the IPC Working Group on Small-Scale Fisheries and Secretariat of the African Advisory Group, was one of the local organizations fighting against these plans and, as Naseegh Jaffer, Director at Masifundise, said:
“We are delighted with this verdict. The rule of law has once again come to the defence of small-scale fishers. The judgement today is another confirmation of the recognition of livelihood, food and access rights of fishing communities. The courts made it clear these rights must be preserved and protected.”