Ōtautahi – Extinction Rebellion activists Siana Fitzjohn and Nick Hanafin will appear in the Christchurch district court for sentencing today, for boarding OMV’s oil rig as it travelled through the Cook Strait in 2020 in an attempt to disrupt the rig’s operation.
The pair boarded the COSL Prospector as it made its way from exploratory deep-sea drilling in the Canterbury Basin to a drilling site off the coast of Taranaki.
They were charged with breaching the Crown Minerals Act by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
This carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison or a 50,000 dollar fine.
Fitzjohn says they boarded OMV’s rig because nobody should profit from putting the climate into crisis.
“Our government should never have opened up Aotearoa’s oceans to the dangers of deep sea oil drilling in the first place. Deep sea oil drilling was made a non-notified discretionary activity under the National government, excluding the public from consultation on any operation involved in deep sea oil exploration.
The public could not formally oppose activities such as seismic ocean blasting and exploratory drilling.
An amendment to the Crown Minerals Act was made to outlaw any protest against deep sea oil exploration at sea, which was widely condemned as anti-democratic.
A ban was introduced on deep sea oil exploration in 2018, but it did not extend to existing exploration permits.
She says putting climate activists through the court system for opposing deep sea oil is questionable in light of recent extreme weather events.
“The dangers we were drawing attention to are already playing out.” National have confirmed they will repeal the 2018 ban on deep sea oil exploration if elected.
“Weather events like we saw in the North Island are occurring with greater frequency and intensity because governments worldwide have made poor decisions for humanity and the climate.
“Deep sea oil drilling is a prime example of bad decision making. Recently OMV have relinquished their permits and will cease deep sea oil exploration in Aotearoa.
Supporters of Hanafin and Fitzjohn are expected to attend court this Friday.
“We’ll accept the legal consequences of our actions, but I hope one day it’ll be the oil companies, and the government bodies who host their operations, being brought to justice for the deaths, damage and heartache caused by these climate disasters,” she says.”