Oil protesters team up to challenge 'The Beast'

By Regan Paranihi

Protesters are teaming up to protest against ‘The Beast’, a seismic survey vessel commonly known as the Amazon Warrior.

The ultimate hope is to shut down the survey, which is running between Raglan and Farewell Spit, and to install a marine mammal sanctuary.

The vessel has been contracted by oilfield services company Schlumberger to seek oil and gas reserves  in a three month process started three weeks ago.

This operation has been at the forefront of protest across the country with pleas from Greenpeace, Forest and Bird, the Iwi Chairs Forum and many Taranaki locals including iwi and hapū to install a marine mammal sanctuary and to end the seismic operations.

A spokesperson for Climate Justice, Emily Bailey says, ““The South Taranaki Bight is part of the most diverse cetacean region on the planet with over 36 cetacean species, of which 6 are endangered and 18 unable to be classified due to a lack of data.”

According to Bailey, since signing the UN Convention on Biological Diversity with 149 other countries in 1992, NZ has the responsibility to avoid harm and threats species and to promote their recovery.

She says, “Our group has been campaigning to stop oil and gas drilling in Taranaki since 2011.  So as Taranaki is facing a drought with marine waters exceeding a record 6 degree celsius temperature rise, the Amazon Warrior got their permit - after they had already arrived and set up. The drilling and seismic surveys have gone on too long. We decided enough was enough.”

The ‘Rally on the Water’ is set to take place at the end of this month in New Plymouth to protest against those vessels coming ashore to support The Beast.

“The new government says their hands are tied by current legislation and we need to change the law," says Bailey, "Well, we want to make sure that the legislation is changed as soon as possible and the proposed marine mammal sanctuary approved so that no more ships come hunting for fossil fuels in our region anymore. The age of oil is killing us. It’s time to shut it down.”