All protesters removed from freighter
Wednesday 16 Sep 2009 10:27 p.m.
All the remaining Greenpeace protesters who stormed and chained themselves to freighter East Ambition off the port of Taranga this afternoon have been arrested back in port.
Their protest was against the importation of the ship's contents - palm kernel extract.
Using a crane and cage, police and fire services were hoisted four storeys into the air allowing them to cut the cables chaining the protesters to the ship.
Fifteen protesters boarded the ship this morning, one scaling the anchor as the others stormed the side of the vessel. Some struggled, hanging precariously from the ship's crane cables.
"It's pretty windy at the moment as you can hear," said activist Jo McVeagh earlier today. "It's pretty breezy too. It's a pretty squishy in these wombs. We are hanging in what's called a 'womb with a view', which is like a hammock."
The East Ambition is carrying palm kernel extracts, which are sent to New Zealand as supplementary feed for stock. But Greenpeace says it is the planting of palms that is responsible for mass deforestation in Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests, and they want the importation of kernels banned.
"Indonesia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, and at the moment it's one of the third highest emitter of greenhouses gases because of the burning and the deforestation," says Bunny McDiarmid.
But farmers say the campaigners are ill-informed, and the feed is only used in times of drought.
"Their actions today are promoting economic treason on New Zealand's major export earner," says Don Nicholson of Federated Farmers. "That can't be tolerated in New Zealand and I hope law comes down on them appropriately."
Over the past seven years, palm kernel extract imports have skyrocketed by 4,500 percent, but both Prime Minister John Key and major importers like Fonterra say the kernels make up only a fraction of a Kiwi cow's diet.
"It's used for about 1 percent of feed in New Zealand," says Mr Key. "It's waste product. In my view it's not leading to deforestation and for that reason I have no intention of intervening."
All the protesters involved in today's action have been charged with illegally boarding a vessel. Greenpeace campaigners are unfazed though, saying the crimes committed against the planet are far greater than those that took place at the port.
Some of the footage used in this report by was supplied to 3 News by Greenpeace.