A legal challenge against the world’s largest seismic oil exploration ship will be launched at a public rally today on Parliament Lawn.
Greenpeace is calling on the Government to take a stand against the oil industry, end oil exploration, and revoke the exploration license of the Schlumberger-operated Amazon Warrior, which is currently seismic blasting for oil in the middle of a blue whale habitat.
At the rally, Greenpeace will announce legal proceedings seeking a declaration that Schlumberger requires an additional permit from DOC under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and without it, must stop seismic blasting. Greenpeace understands the company has only been granted a permit by the Ministry of Energy under the Crown Minerals Act.
Anyone undertaking activities that could disturb marine mammals, including whales, must seek a permit under the MMPA, says Greenpeace campaigner Kate Simcock. She says there is clear evidence that seismic exploration disturbs and even injures whales.
Schlumberger’s operation will see it firing seismic blasts into the seabed to search for oil every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for up to three months.
“The impacts on blue whales in this area are likely to be torturous, interfering with their communication and feeding,” Simcock says.
Wellingtonians have been invited to come along to the rally on Parliament Lawn from 12:30pm. They may also get to meet the newest member of the Greenpeace family, a 17-metre inflatable whale called Janet.
There will be a number of speakers, including chair and founder of 350 Aotearoa, Aaron Packard; marine conservation advocate at Forest and Bird, Anton van Helden; iwi leader, Adrian Wagner; Oil Free Wellington representative, Anna Rogers; and Green MP Gareth Hughes.
Last week, and despite increasing public pressure, the new Labour-led Government approved Schlumberger’s application under the Crown Minerals Act to search for oil across 19,000 square kilometres of the Taranaki Basin on behalf of Austrian company, OMV.
Simcock says the ship is looking for the oil and gas that can’t be burned if we want a stable climate. The area is also a blue whale habitat and the whale’s only known feeding ground in New Zealand.
“We know that we can’t burn most of the fossil fuel reserves we know about if we’re to stabilise our climate. Searching for more makes no sense, and the time to act is now,” she says.
“Jacinda Ardern has said that climate change is her generation’s nuclear free moment. In 1985, going nuclear free meant taking a moral stand in front of the world against the powerful US military by stopping their nuclear ships.
“We want to send the message to Jacinda Ardern that we all have her back. To take action on climate change we need to be bold and brave together. We need to be that little country in the middle of the Pacific that stood up to the oil industry and stopped their oil ships.”
Today’s protest comes on the back of a decade of popular opposition to oil and gas from local communities and iwi up and down the country.
On Friday, a national gathering of Māori leaders came to an historic agreement to oppose all seismic testing and oil exploration in the waters of New Zealand. The Iwi Chairs Forum passed the resolution to seek amendments to the EEZ Act to give effect to this opposition.
And on Saturday, Climate Justice Taranaki held a march through the streets of New Plymouth to oppose the Amazon Warrior in their waters.
This followed a petition and open letter to Ardern by Taranaki iwi calling on her to halt seismic testing off the Taranaki coastline. Over 10,000 people added their name in less than a week.