Action Alert : Maori fishing skipper detained on navy warship for defending ancestral waters from Deep Sea Oil Drilling
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Act now: Iwi fishing skipper detained on navy warship 23 April 2011
This action alert has four sections: what happened today, background information, what you can do, and where you can get more information. This message is available on-line at http://www.facebook.com/PeaceMovementAotearoa
What happened today
Elvis Teddy, skipper of the Te Whanau a Apanui tribal fishing boat San Pietro, was arrested at sea and detained on a navy warship while fishing in Te Whanau a Apanui ccustomary fishing grounds in the vicinity of the Orient Explorer, the deep sea oil survey ship ship currently conducting seismic testing in the Raukumara Basin on behalf of Brazilian oil company Petrobras. The arrest came the day after Maritime NZ withdrew the exclusion orders that police officers, assisted by the navy, issued to boats in the vicinity of the Orient Explorer last week.
This morning, Rikirangi Gage, CEO of Te Rununga o Te Whanau (Te Whanau a Apanui), radioed the Orient Explorer from the San Pietro as follows: “This is the San Pietro calling the Orient Explorer. You are not welcome in our waters. Accordingly and as an expression of our mana in these waters and our deep concern for the adverse effects of deep sea drilling, we will be positioning the Te Whanau a Apanui vessel directly in your path, approximately one and a half nautical miles in front of you. We will not be moving, we will be doing some fishing. We wish to reiterate that this is not a protest. We are defending tribal waters and our rights from reckless Government policies and the threat of deep sea drilling, which our hapu have not consented to and continue to oppose. We have a duty to uphold the mana of our hapu here in our territorial waters.” – the radio broadcast is available here
In response, two navy warships – HMNZS Taupo and HMNZS Hawea – sent inflatables with navy personnel and police officers to board the San Pietro and threatened to arrest all on board. Elvis Teddy was arrested, detained on one of the navy vessels, and taken to Tauranga while the others on board were left to crew the San Pietro.
On 1 June, the government awarded Brazilian oil company Petrobras a five-year exploration permit for oil and gas in the Raukumara Basin.
The first two stages of exploration involve seismic surveying – firing compressed air from the surface to the seabed, and measuring the acoustic waves bouncing back to the sonar array trailing 10 kilometres behind the Orient Express. Seismic surveying can have an adverse impact on marine life, especially marine mammals. The current surveying is taking place during the season of whale migration along the East Coast.
The permit includes permission for Petrobras to drill an exploratory well. The massive oil and gas spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, which took three months to cap and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the ocean, was from an exploratory well at a depth of 1500 metres.
In the Raukumara Basin, the proposed depths for drilling an exploratory well range from 1500 to 3000 metres. The Raukumara Basin sits on a major and active fault line, and a simple search of geonet – shows there are frequent earthquakes in the area. It is therefore particularly risky to place any sub-sea installation, such as an oil well, there.
Te Whanau a Apanui were not consulted about the exploration permit, nor did they give their consent for the seismic survey.
What you can do
Contact your local MP as soon as possible and express your concern about the exploration permit, the lack of consultation with Te Whanau a Apanui, the arrest of the skipper of a vessel exercising customary fishing rights, and the protection of the interests of a foreign oil company at the expense of the rights of the local iwi.
Contact details for all MPs are here
Some photos from the Te Whanau a Apanui protest in Wellington on 20 April are athere