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Activist Audrey Siegl faces off with Shell's Polar Pioneer drilling vessel on Wednesday, July 17, 2015. (Photo: Greenpeace)

Showdown at Sea: Greenpeace Puts Boats and Bodies Between Shell and the Arctic

"If they are going to push past us, if they're going to continue on to the Arctic, they are not going to do it without opposition."

Nadia Prupis

By boat, by raft, or by swimming through frigid northern waters, the people will not back down against drilling in the Arctic.

That was the message Wednesday morning as about 30 environmental campaigners on Greenpeace vessels—including Musqueam First Nation activist Audrey Siegl, featured in a video on Tuesday preparing for the action—chased down oil giant Shell's Arctic drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, as it moved past Vancouver Island toward its final destination in Alaskan waters.

Under the banner of People vs. Oil, several protesters jumped from a raft into the choppy ocean waves to block the path of the Polar Pioneer. Shell plans to drill for oil in the Arctic's Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, which are home to numerous Indigenous communities and marine species.

According to Vancouver's CKNW news outlet, the protesters on the raft had a message for Shell:

What they’re planning to do is really dangerous. It’s bad for the Arctic. It’s bad the coast and it’s terrible for our climate. We cannot afford to extract the oil in the Arctic and burn it, according to all the latest climate science. If they are going to push past us, if they’re going to continue on to the Arctic, they are not going to do it without opposition.

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The swimmers included a Fijian activist named Victor Pickering. "For me, standing up to Shell is a personal struggle to protect my country's way of life that will be further devastated by rising sea levels and a melting north pole," he said in a statement.

As of Wednesday morning, the Polar Pioneer had barreled down on the swimmers, forcing them to move out of the way, but two smaller boats of activists are still facing off with the vessel.

Follow the action on Twitter with the hashtags #PeopleVsOil and #ShellNo.


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