Oil Free Seas Flotilla are ‘Courageous kiwis’

Press release - November 8, 2013
The launch of the Oil Free Seas Flotilla this week is a symbol of hope for a clean energy future said Greenpeace today.

“This is an inspiring example of courageous kiwis doing their bit to stand up against deep-sea oil exploration around New Zealand and the dangers risky fossil fuel extraction poses to our oceans, coastlines and way of life. This week the nation spoke on TV3’s The Vote - New Zealanders do not want a fossil fuel future. A clean economy is the way forward” said Greenpeace Campaigner Steve Abel.

Greenpeace is providing operational support and will be participating in the flotilla as sponsors of the SV Vega.

The Vega is a boat with a long history of peaceful protest at sea.  Skippered by co-founder of Greenpeace, the late David McTaggart in the 1970’s, the Vega made numerous voyages to Mururoa to protest against Nuclear Testing in the Pacific. On one trip the Vega was rammed by a French military warship and the following year on another voyage, McTaggart was severely beaten by French military police.  Oil Free Seas Flotilla spokeswoman Anna Horne was on that voyage in 1973 and photographed McTaggart’s assault. The Vega is now skippered by Daniel Mares.

“In the proud kiwi tradition of protest at sea this flotilla has been formed by a group of individuals who strongly believe New Zealand is in danger of damaging the unspoiled oceans that are at the heart of who we are as a nation.  Deep-sea drilling undermines our chance for a prosperous, clean energy future” said Steve Abel.

The flotilla will set sail over the next week, heading directly to the drilling site 110 nautical miles west of Raglan. The first boat to leave, Tiama, skippered by Henk Haazen, departs at 2pm today from Bluff.

Texan oil company Anadarko (found liable for the Gulf of Mexico spill (1)) is due to start drilling at a depth of 1500 meters later this month, using the untested drill ship the Nobel Bob Douglas. They intend to drill a second exploratory well at 1100 off the Otago coast early next year (2014).
Earlier this year, the Government announced a new law to ban aspects of protesting at sea. Now known as the ‘Anadarko Amendment’, it states ‘that it is illegal to interfere with any structure or ship that is in an offshore area that is to be used in mining activities, with an exclusion zone of 500 meters.’

“New Zealanders have a right to have their say and we will not let a ban on protest at sea stop us. Protest is a democratic right and we will be upholding that right” said Steve Abel.

“We invite the public to join with us in wishing these brave New Zealander’s godspeed in their peaceful protest against deep sea oil drilling”.

The departure events are as follows:

  • Friday 8th at 2:00pm from Bluff (City Wharf)
  • Monday 11th at 12noon from both Auckland (Princes Wharf) and Kaikoura  (Fisherman’s Wharf)
  • Tuesday 12th at 12noon from the Bay of Islands (Opua)
  • Thursday 14th at 10:00am from Wellington (Queens Wharf)

The flotilla website is here.

(1) February 22, 2012, US District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Judge Carl Barbier concluded: “Liability for OPA [Oil Pollution Act] removal costs and damages is joint and several, vis-à-vis BP and Anadarko and the subsurface discharge. Furthermore, because it is undisputed that BP and Anadarko were owners of the offshore facility, BP and Anadarko are liable for civil penalties [under the Clean Water Act]”.


Contact information:

Anna Horne, Spokesperson for the Oil Free Sea Flotilla, 021 0222 1389

Daniel Mares, Skipper of SV Vega, 021 72 9991

Steve Abel, energy campaigner, Greenpeace: 021 927301

Ana Mules, communications officer, Greenpeace: 021 2609186