Greenpeace crew have made contact with the world’s biggest seismic oil ship after travelling 50 nautical miles on two rigid-hulled inflatables off the coast of Wairarapa.
The boat crews, consisting of members from Greenpeace and local iwi, located the 125-metre seismic ship, Amazon Warrior, searching for oil off the East Coast of New Zealand on behalf of oil giants Statoil and Chevron.
From on board one of the inflatables, Greenpeace campaigner Kate Simcock radioed the master of the Amazon Warrior to deliver an open letter of protest signed by over 60,000 New Zealanders.
Polynesian voyaging waka captain and East Coast resident, Reuben Raihania Tipoki (Ngāti Kahungunu), also delivered a message on behalf of over 80 indigenous communities from the East Coast of New Zealand, demanding Statoil and Chevron cease activities in their customary waters.
Tipoki is a highly experienced captain, and his voyages have included captaining Okeanos for eight months during a 10,000 nautical mile journey from Fiji through Rotuma, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, to Palau.
Tipoki says it’s important to see first-hand what seismic blasting ships are doing in his iwi’s customary waters so he can bring the stories back to his community.
“The burning of fossil fuels is changing our world - we are changing our world. We are calling in Armageddon, and it will be destruction by our own hands,” he says.
“If we are to stem climate change, indigenous philosophies about how to fit in with nature and not expect nature to fit in with us must be re-adopted.”
The Amazon Warrior currently has two support vessels circling it, acting as guard dogs of its behemoth seismic array. They are the Ocean Pioneer, a New Zealand-owned fishing vessel often used as support by the oil industry; and the Maria G, a supply ship sent over from Panama.
From on board, Greenpeace climate campaigner, Kate Simcock, says the sheer size of the Amazon Warrior is “daunting”.
“This is one big beast and it’s eerie to see it out here roaming such a beautiful stretch of coastline. In order to find oil, it’s blasting sound waves into the ocean every 8 seconds, 24 hours a day, from massive arrays that are the length of 80 rugby fields,” she says.
The oil industry itself admits they are comparable in sound to an underwater volcano, so just imagine how distressing they must be for the dolphins and whales who live here.
“And this is all for the very oil that science says can’t be burned if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe. It’s a complete betrayal that our Government has invited this climate-wrecking machine to roam our unique coastlines.”
The crew is monitoring the Amazon Warrior and its support vessels throughout the day as they search for oil.
This will include taking underwater recordings of the seismic blasts that can deafen whales, and collecting data which will be fed through to scientists to measure the effects on marine life.