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Oil ship hiding: Greenpeace

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/11/2016

Greenpeace has accused an oil exploration ship off the east coast of New Zealand dangerously turning off its location technology to avoid protests.

The Amazon Warrior is surveying the Pegasus Basin for Statoil and Chevron after being granted exploration permits.

Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Kate Simcock says that apart from a brief transmission on Monday the ship seems to have purposefully turned off its automatic identification system (AIS) over the past five days in order to hide from protesters.

That was despite boats are required under maritime safety laws to have their AIS on in the interests of safety and to prevent dangerous at-sea events like collisions.

"It's reckless and dangerous that during a time when New Zealand has been hit by a terrible earthquake, this ship has taken the law into its own hands in order to hide from some peaceful protestors," Ms Simcock said in a statement on Thursday.

"It has sat out there somewhere between Napier and Kaikoura with its AIS safety system not transmitting its location throughout the earthquake, tsunami threats, and the huge storms that have been battering the lower North Island.

"Visibility at sea is vital for safety and it's exactly at times like these that an AIS is so important. This ship must be held accountable to the law."

The ship is owned by multinational oil exploration company Schlumberger, which could not be reached for comment.

Maritime NZ has been contacted for comment.

Greenpeace is also critical of the ship's surveying method of blasting sound waves, which it says can potentially deafen whales and dolphins.

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