Greenpeace doth protest too much

By Andrew Bonallack -
Attempting to board an oil rig in arctic waters is an incredibly dangerous, aggressive act of piracy.
Attempting to board an oil rig in arctic waters is an incredibly dangerous, aggressive act of piracy.

I MUST have been in a picky mood over the weekend because two notable stories failed to garner much sympathy in me.

Firstly, I don't think Greenpeace can automatically assume the mantle of righteous nobility. At the moment, 28 Greenpeace protesters, including New Zealanders David Haussmann and Jonathan Beauchamp, are under arrest in Russia after being involved in a protest against a drilling platform in the Arctic Sea. The protesters face piracy charges, and a hefty prison sentence if things don't go their way.

I am a great believer in checks and balances in world affairs, but also realism. Family have argued the crew are "normal, peaceful people" who believe in the right to peaceful protest.

However, attempting to board an oil rig in arctic waters is not a peaceful protest. It is an incredibly dangerous, aggressive act and it is absolutely an act of piracy. The bravery of these protesters is impressive, but they're kidding themselves if they think there is a cushion of "peaceful protest" waiting to catch them.

That's like saying it's only a game, with a safety clause and a time-out box.

The other story I was curious about was the Tauranga mayor's declaration of wanting the Rena completely salvaged from Astrolabe reef, although it has now been dismantled to below sea level. Local iwi are also calling for it to go. It will require resource consent to leave the remains in place.

My limited understanding of wrecks below the surface is that they can be a boon to sealife and an attraction for divers. This country has a reasonable history of dropping ships into marine reserves, notably frigate F69 in a marine reserve off Island Bay in Wellington and the Rainbow Warrior in the Far North.

As long as the Rena isn't leaking bad stuff, or has the potential to do so, then the prospect isn't unattractive. It's hardly going to be a hazard to navigation, considering the entire reef is exactly that. Not being a local, it's hard to know the public mood in Bay of Plenty, but I think the mayor is point-scoring a few days out from the local elections. They can erect a cute statue to the penguins who suffered during the Rena's fuel spill, but out-of-sight shipwrecks are hardly novel. The sea has claimed it, the water has covered it. It's not worth spending the money to get it gone.

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