23 Apr 2011

Captain of oil protest boat arrested

8:22 pm on 23 April 2011

Police have arrested the captain of a boat protesting against oil exploration off the East Cape of the North Island.

Brazilian oil company Petrobras was awarded a permit in 2010 to explore 12,000 square kilometres of the Raukumara Basin for gas and oil.

Two survey vessels began work in the area in early April, sparking protests by groups opposed to deep-sea drilling off the coast.

Police say the protest boat was boarded by officers from a naval vessel and the skipper was arrested for breaching the Maritime Transport Act.

They say the arrest followed a blatant breach of safety when the boat repeatedly ignored their instructions.

According to police, four protest boats had positioned themselves in a line ahead of the survey ship Ocean Explorer.

Three of them moved away after being given a warning but the fourth deployed buoys and long-line fishing lines in the path of the survey ship.

The captain was taken into custody on board the naval vessel, Hawea.