Swimmers attempt to stop ship

EMMA DANGERFIELD
Last updated 15:36 13/02/2014

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Nine anti-drilling protesters from Kaikoura have been sighted on paddle boards near the seismic survey vessel Duke off Aotea Quay this afternoon. 

Senior-Sergeant Marc Clausen from police communications said the police launch Lady Elizabeth IV had been dispatched to the scene to clear the area. 

The Duke is scheduled to sail out of Wellington Harbour by 4pm.

Interislander freight only ferry Arahura's berthing at the ferry terminal has been delayed while Wellington Wharf police sort the situation out.  

This protest is part of ongoing resistance the stop-deep-sea-drilling community have planned in protest against oil exploration in the Pegasus Basin, where the MV Duke has been firing seismic blasts into the seabed 35 nautical miles off the coast of Kaikoura.

The MV Duke has been in port in Wellington and had planned to return to the Pegasus Basin this afternoon, the group says.

Protest spokesperson Tania Wati said there were nine swimmers in the water, representing the different kinds of people that make up the concerned community of Kaikoura.

''We believe deep sea oil exploration is bad news and it's time for kiwis to get off the fence. We want to put the call out to the rest of New Zealand - help us save Kaikoura from the Hazards of Duke.''

"We have travelled to Wellington from Kaikoura to voice our concerns about deep sea oil exploration off our coast. We have been speaking but Anadarko and the government is not listening - so we thought we would bring our concerns to Wellington. The politicians can't ignore us on their doorstep, just like we won't ignore dangerous seismic testing off ours.''  

Kaikoura resident Brett Cowan, concerned about the safety of Kaikoura's whales, dolphins and marine life, said seismic testing created noise pollution which was known to distress whales and dolphins, impacting on their ability to feed and navigate through their environment. ''

As kaitiaki, our community is responsible for the safety of the local marine life that makes Kaikoura such a special place and is the backbone of our local economy. Seismic testing is dangerous; it is deaf by a thousand booms.'' 

''We are a strong community and we intend to send a strong message to Anadarko and this government that Kaikoura does not want this dangerous activity here in our waters,'' said local surfer Haley Baxter.

Those concerned in Kaikoura say a recent study by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), part of the United States Department of the Interior, clearly shows harm to whales, dolphins, fisheries and other marine life caused directly by seismic mapping.

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The Kaikoura stop-deep-sea-drilling community supports recent protest action across the country against deep sea oil exploration by the Te Reinga Hikoi to Waitangi, Oil Free Wellington and Oil Free Otago. Oil spill modelling shows that an oil spill in Otago could reach Kaikoura. 

- The Marlborough Express

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