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To: Barbara Creecy Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment

Hands off Antarctica

We call on the South African government to ban all vessels involved in Antarctic oil and gas exploration from using our ports. We strongly object to the arrival of the Russian polar research vessel Akademik Alexander Karpinsky in Cape Town on 28 January.

Hydrocarbon exploration in Antarctica harms the region’s fragile marine ecosystems and causes acoustic stress to endangered marine life, such as blue whales and emperor penguins. It also violates the 55-nation Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) Russia and South Africa signed.

Under the Antarctic Treaties Act 1996, signed into regulation by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, on 11 February 2022: “No person may conduct any prospecting, mining, exploration, production or related activities in the Antarctic Treaty area.”

We call on the South African government to fulfil its moral duty to citizens and future generations of South Africa, as well as Africa and the whole world, by:

• Denying port access to Akademik Alexander Karpinsky and all other vessels involved in similar harmful hydrocarbon exploration activities in Antarctica.

• Demanding that the Akademik Alexander Karpinsky and similar vessels prove that they are engaged in actual scientific research within the meaning of the Antarctic Treaty and that they have neither the intention nor the technologies to prospect for fossil fuel reserves in the Antarctic region before being allowed to transit via South Africa.

• Submitting a formal proposal to the 45th Antarctic Treaty Advisory Council (ATCM) for an explicit and permanent ban on hydrocarbon production in Antarctica.

Why is this important?

Karpinsky uses seismic technology scientifically proven to disrupt the intrinsic behaviour of marine animals such as whales and dolphins. This can lead to hearing loss, organ rupture, and mass strandings. It also kills plankton, the basis of the food chain upon which all marine life depends.

Beyond seismic blasting’s immediate harm to marine life lies an even more sinister threat.
In February 2020, Russian state-owned company Rosgeo announced that the Karpinsky, during an expedition to the Antarctic continental shelf, discovered 70 billion tons (500 billion barrels) of potential oil and gas resources under the Southern Ocean. This is equivalent to 15 years of world oil consumption.

There is no plausible reason for building this detailed hydrocarbon inventory other than that Russia hopes to begin producing these oil or gas resources at some point in the future. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has concluded that fossil fuel exploration must end if we remain below the 2°C limit and prevent catastrophic climate change.

Climate change is the defining crisis of our time, and no region of the world can escape its devastating consequences. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called the continued exploitation of fossil fuels "moral and economic insanity".

South Africa is one of 29 countries - and the only African country - with decision-making powers under the Antarctic Treaty System (“ATS”). As such, it is the only African country that can ensure that common sense prevails in the interests of Africa.

Your support is highly appreciated, with thanks from Greenpeace Africa Cape Town volunteers, Green Connection, Oceans Not Oil and Extinction Rebellion

#ProtectAntarctica #HandsOffAntarctica


Letter of demand >>>

2022 Government Gazette >>>

EWN >>

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2023-02-25 21:28:12 +0200

100 signatures reached

2023-02-24 13:34:04 +0200

50 signatures reached

2023-02-24 09:31:09 +0200

25 signatures reached

2023-02-21 11:10:14 +0200

10 signatures reached