4 Apr 2011

Protest flotilla reaches suspected testing area

6:49 pm on 4 April 2011

Six yachts protesting against planned deep-sea drilling off the coast of the North Island have reached the area where their crews say seismic testing is scheduled to begin on Monday.

The flotilla has sailed from Auckland to the Raukumara Basin to try to stop Brazilian oil company Petrobras from starting seismic surveying.

Protesters joined a concerned Maori iwi at Whangaparaoa Bay in the eastern Bay of Plenty at the weekend for a meeting to discuss protest strategies.

At the hui it was decided that the flotilla would sail to meet the seismic testing vessel the Orient Explorer.

Greenpeace says the flotilla's largest vessel, Infinity, sailed through the night to enter the testing zone early on Monday.

It says it expects Infinity to encounter the Orient Explorer within the next 24 hours.

The protesters want the Government to reverse last year's decision to sell off rights to explore for oil.