Greenpeace activists have boarded the support vessel of the world’s largest seismic blasting ship this morning,and locked themselves to it.
The Mermaid Searcher is in the Port of Taranaki to collect resupplies for the Amazon Warrior, a Schlumberger-owned 125-metre long ship, which is here on behalf of Austrian oil giant, OMV.
Greenpeace climate campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says the Amazon Warrior is blasting thousands of square kilometres of the New Zealand seabed in search of oil and gas that are fuelling climate change. The area is also a blue whale habitat and the whale’s only known feeding ground in New Zealand.
“By stopping the resupply vessel, we’re impacting the Amazon Warrior’s search for oil and gas in New Zealand’s pristine ocean,” she says.
“The Amazon Warrior will do whatever it can to avoid coming into port because it knows it will face strong opposition by the public. We won’t let the Amazon Warrior carry out its climate-destroying activities quietly, out of sight and mind.”
Larsson says the activists occupying the Mermaid Searcher plan to stay there as long as they can. They include two hanging from a post and two others locked to other parts of the ship.
For the past two months, the Amazon Warrior has been sending seismic blasts into the seabed every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day. The impacts on blue whales in this area are likely to be torturous, interfering with their communication and feeding.
“As well as the harmful impacts on marine life, we can’t actually afford to burn most of the fossil fuel reserves we already know about if we’re to have a chance at stabilising our climate. Searching for new oil and gas makes no sense,” Larsson says.
“Jacinda Ardern says climate change is her generation’s nuclear free moment. Going nuclear free meant courageously standing up to the US military and stopping the nuclear ships. Taking action on climate change requires the guts to stand up to the powerful oil industry and stop their exploration ships.
“Now is the moment. It’s time for Jacinda’s Government to end the search for new oil.”
Today’s protest follows a decade of popular opposition to oil and gas from local communities and iwi up and down the country. Taranaki iwi have written an open letter to Ardern, calling on her to halt seismic testing off their coastline.
The Amazon Warrior faced mass resistance last summer when it was in New Zealand searching for oil on behalf of Statoil, Chevron, and OMV off the Wairarapa Coast. Thousands signed petitions, crowdfunded a boat to confront it at sea, and sent emails of complaint to Statoil and Chevron. East Coast iwi, Ngāti Kahungunu, sent their voyaging waka, Te Matau a Māui, to deliver a message on behalf of more than 80 hapū of Te Ikaroa.
In April, Greenpeace activists, including Executive Director Dr Russel Norman, swam in front of the ship, 60 nautical miles out to sea, stopping it from seismic blasting for the day.
The activists and Greenpeace were charged by the oil division of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE), under the 2013 Amendment to the Crown Minerals Act known as the ‘Anadarko Amendment’. They face a year in jail and up to $300,000 in collective fines. They have pleaded Not Guilty and will face trial in April.