Greenpeace are criticising a reported statement by the new Minister of Energy, Megan Woods, that the decision about whether to issue a permit for oil exploration is merely an “operational matter”.
The statement was made in regards to the Amazon Warrior – the world’s largest seismic survey ship – which is due to arrive in New Zealand waters imminently. However, the Government has yet to approve its permit to seismic blast for oil and gas in the Taranaki Basin this summer.
“Ultimately, it’s the Minister’s signature that will make or break this project. It is not merely an operational matter. The choice is firmly in her hands,” says Kate Simcock, Lead Climate Campaigner for Greenpeace New Zealand.
The environmental organisation has sent a letter to the Woods, calling on her to intervene and stop the ship from undertaking its survey.
“The new Government has made strong statements about tackling climate change head on and protecting our treasured marine mammals,” says Simcock.
“Those bold words now need to be honoured with bold action to end the search for new oil and gas in New Zealand.”
Scientists recently discovered that the permit area is home to a massive blue whale population and is New Zealand’s only known blue whale feeding ground.
Seismic testing involves loud acoustic explosions being fired into the ocean from a survey ship every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, over weeks and months. It is known to disturb marine mammals which rely on sound to communicate, feed, and nurture their young and cause chronic distress over time.
“This is the first big test of the Government’s commitment to acting on climate change. If they allow this Beast to blast for oil off our shores, the Government can expect public resistance to this decision,” says Simcock.