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Protestors urged to consider safety of themselves and others

10 April 2017

Protestors urged to consider safety of themselves and others

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment General Manager James Stevenson-Wallace is urging people protesting the Amazon Warrior seismic survey ship to be responsible, comply with the law, and avoid putting themselves and others in danger.

Greenpeace have said they have breached a 500-metre Non-Interference Zone around the Amazon Warrior and have dropped people in the water ahead of the ship, forcing it to take evasive action to avoid any incident.

In 2013 Parliament made changes to the Crown Minerals Act, making it illegal for protest activity to interfere with seismic survey or other vessels involved in permitted and lawful petroleum work.

MBIE will be investigating alleged breaches of the Act.

“The non-interference provisions are not about removing the right to protest. They are about balancing the right to protest with an operator’s right to get on with their work – while promoting the safety of everyone involved,” Mr Stevenson-Wallace says.

“Petroleum operations at sea are complex, often very precise and can be at an industrial scale. The vessels carry high-tech equipment, can be large and have limited manoeuvrability.

“People are free to protest oil and gas activity at sea, as they are on land, but they cannot disrupt a legitimate operation and create health and safety risks. The provisions are as much to protect the protestors as the crew of the Amazon Warrior.”

Mr Stevenson-Wallace says seismic surveys help build our scientific knowledge and understanding of New Zealand.

“The survey data also helps create a picture of the geology beneath our oceans. The information gathered is shared with the Government and in time is made freely available. It can be very useful to researchers, including GNS Science, who use seismic data for fault line mapping.

“The Government has developed a robust regulatory regime to ensure oil and gas activities are undertaken to the highest standards – which includes minimising any potential impacts on marine mammals, such as whales and dolphins. Any seismic survey vessels operating in our Exclusive Economic Zone have to follow the Department of Conservation’s Code of Conduct for seismic surveying.

“It is considered one of the most rigorous in the world for protecting marine mammals and requires survey ships to have independent observers on board, watching and listening for mammals. If any mammals are detected within a kilometre radius all activity stops until they leave the area.”

[ends]

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