Shell Taranaki Ltd. (formerly STOS) has applied to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for consents to use a jack-up rig for drilling at the Maui gas field and to discharge harmful chemicals at sea.
At the public hearings in New Plymouth, Climate Justice Taranaki will ask that the applications be declined.
“Shell has not done any proper assessment of the cumulative effects on the environment and viability of threatened species, should the proposals get approved. Shell’s analysis has been far too narrow,” said Catherine Cheung, member of Climate Justice Taranaki.
“It turns out South Taranaki Bight is a global diversity hotspot for marine mammals, one of the two richest such places on earth. As a party to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), New Zealand has a clear international obligation to protect these species. Yet we are not treating the area with the respect it deserves, more like a sacrificial zone,” added marine scientist Dr. Lyndon DeVantier.
There are at least seven threatened marine mammal species in South Taranaki Bight, six of which are endangered, including the Maui dolphin and blue whale. These are increasingly impacted by a wide array of human activities there, from fishing to maritime traffic, oil and gas seismic surveys, drilling and waste discharge, and now EPA has also decided to allow seabed mining.
“All this is on top of the rapid changes to the ecosystem being driven by climate change, causing increasing sea temperatures, ocean acidification and related impacts on productivity. The science tells us that these will all get worse in coming decades, not better, and any additional impacts, including from what Shell proposes, could push these already threatened species over the edge. It certainly won’t help them to recover, which is what we are supposed to be doing,” Dr DeVantier continued.
“We are at the tipping point of a major climate catastrophe, yet the EEZ Act and the RMA do not allow the consideration of climate change in decision making. This is absurd. The law must, and ultimately will change. In the meantime, communities are rising up against fossil fuel mining, like the farming village of Bentley in the Northern Rivers of Australia,” said Cheung.
This successful resistance is documented in the movie ‘The Bentley Effect’, presently touring New Zealand. Details of local screenings in Taranaki (2-3 Oct), Whanganui, Palmeston North, Wellington and the South Island are available here.
EPA hearing into Maui jack-up rig begins (Taranaki Daily News, 2 Oct 2017)
Maui gas field hearing today (Radio NZ, 2 Oct 2017)
Submissions against Shell drilling to be heard (Newstalk ZB, 3 Oct 2017)
The Bentley Effect (Radio NZ, 3 Oct 2017)