Greenpeace has issued a warning to the world’s biggest seismic blasting ship upon its arrival in New Zealand waters this morning.
The environmental organisation has promised the Amazon Warrior will face opposition over its plans to search for oil in the middle of a blue whale habitat.
The Schlumberger-operated 125 metre long ship is set to search for oil in the Taranaki Basin on behalf of Austrian oil giant, OMV.
Greenpeace climate campaigner, Kate Simcock, says the ship is looking for the oil and gas that we can’t burn if we want a stable climate.
The area is also a recently discovered blue whale habitat and the whale’s only known feeding ground in New Zealand.
However, the Government still has a chance to stop the survey from going ahead, Simcock says.
“Although the Amazon Warrior is in New Zealand waters right now, it seems the Government has not yet approved Schlumberger’s permit request to seismic blast across almost 20,000 square kilometres of the Taranaki Basin. There is still time to turn this ship around, but we must do it urgently,” she says.
“If not, this ship should expect mass public resistance.
“We understand Schlumberger is proposing up to three months of constant blasting, 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, science tells us we can’t afford to burn most of the fossil fuel reserves we know about if we’re to have a chance at stabilising our climate. Searching for new oil makes zero sense.
“Jacinda Ardern says climate change is her generation’s nuclear free moment. Going nuclear free meant stopping the nuclear ships. Taking action on climate change means stopping the oil exploration ships. We’d like to see the Prime Minister back up her bold words with strong action.”
Earlier this week, Taranaki iwi and representatives wrote an open letter to Ardern calling on her to halt seismic testing off the Taranaki coast.
The Amazon Warrior also 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 and volunteer Sara Howell, 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 next year.
A petition calling on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to stop the seismic blasting and end the Block Offer process has gained over 20,000 signatures.
A video released on social media featuring a classic Split Enz track also calls on Jacinda Ardern to seize her nuclear-free moment and turn back the oil exploration ships. It has been viewed over 50,000 times shared more than 1,600 times in the last few days.
Greenpeace is plotting the position of the Amazon Warrior on a public map for everyone to see here: http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/end-oil