Greenpeace Activists Arrested After Boarding Supply Ship
The five Greenpeace activists that boarded the offshore support vessel Mermaid Searcher in the Port of Taranaki, New Zealand, have been arrested.
The vessel arrived to collect resupplies for the Amazon Warrior, the Schlumberger-owned seismic vessel operating in the nation's waters on behalf of Austrian oil giant, OMV.
Greenpeace climate campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says: "By stopping the resupply vessel, we’re impacting the Amazon Warrior’s search for oil and gas in New Zealand’s pristine ocean. 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."
For the past two months, the Amazon Warrior has been sending seismic blasts into the seabed every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, says Greenpeace. The impacts on blue whales in this area are likely to be torturous, interfering with their communication and feeding.
The Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand said the protest was disappointing and unjust to the crew. "We totally respect the right of Greenpeace to protest, but at the same time, they should respect the rights of others to go about their lawful business," said the organization in a statement. “Climate change is a serious issue, and it requires governments, energy companies, NGOs and environmental groups to work together to find answers.”
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said climate change is her generation’s nuclear free moment. Larsson says, “Going nuclear free meant courageously standing up to the U.S. 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."
The Amazon Warrior faced resistance last summer when she 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, 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.
The activists on the Mermaid Searcher are expected to be charged under the Anadarko Amendment. The Amendment makes it an offense to interfere with oil exploration ships at sea.
"With their commitment to climate action, the new Labour Government need to act now to reign in the Ministry of Oil, and more importantly, stop offshore exploration and drilling to fulfill our obligations to tackle climate change. We can’t afford to burn most of the known fossil fuel reserves if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change - searching for more makes no sense," says Larsson.
"As well as stopping offshore oil exploration, the Ardern Government should repeal the Anadarko Amendment and protect the right to peacefully protest in a democratic society.”