The arrival of Russia’s research vessel, the Akademik Alexander Karpinsky, prompted a number of eco-justice organisations and activists to protest the ship’s docking at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront.
Extinction Rebellion (XR), Greenpeace volunteers, and independent environmental activists gathered at the V&A Waterfront to protest the ship’s arrival and the fact that the port of Cape Town has been its launch pad for more than 20 years.
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The protest was organised by Extinction Rebellion (XR) Cape Town and Greenpeace Cape Town volunteers, who were joined by a host of other organisations, including the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa) and its youth, The Green Connection, and 350 Africa.
The ship has been looking for hydrocarbons, which are the building blocks for oil and gas, in Antarctica’s warming southern ocean for almost 25 years. It uses the same seismic technology that oil giant Shell wanted to use to look for oil and gas off the Wild Coast.
Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace Cape Town think that by doing this, the ship and others have in all likelihood harmed Antarctica’s fragile marine ecosystems and caused sonic distress to marine species, such as blue whales and emperor penguins, that are critically endangered.
In a statement promoting yesterday’s protests, the associations stated:
“This constitutes a breach of the 55-nation Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), to which both Russia and South Africa are signatories, under which resource exploration and extraction in the Antarctic region have been banned since 1998.”
The arrival of the ship came just days after a contentious meeting between Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, and Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister.