A small group of protesters and activists are gathering at the Cathedral Park boat ramp in Portland, preparing to stay for a 24-hour vigil as they wait for Royal Dutch Shell Oil's icebreaker ship, the MSV Fennica, to depart from Portland for the Arctic, reports Reuters.
Following the lead of protesters in Seattle who tried to block ships headed for Shell's planned oil exploration in the Chukchi Sea, the Portland "kayaktivists" said they would conduct a vigil overnight on the Willamette River
, which runs through downtown Portland.
"Our goal is to basically demonstrate as much community resistance to Shell’s plans to drill for oil and secure new oil reserves in the Arctic,” said Meredith Cocks, organizer with environmental activist group Portland Rising Tide.
The 380-foot-long Fennica is under repair at Vigor Industrial’s Shipyard on Swan Island after sustaining a gash to its hull July 7 while heading out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska
on its way to Shell’s drilling prospect in the Chukchi Sea.
Various groups including Climate Action Coalition, 350 PDX, Portland Rising Tide called people to mobilize for a ‘kayak and water vigil’ from noon at the Cathedral Park boat ramp in North Portland.
“Scientists tell us we can’t drill in the Arctic if we want to avoid dangerous climate change and sea level rise that threatens three-quarters of the Earth’s major cities in the next few decades,” commented Daphne Wysham, from the Center for Sustainable Economy. “Nevertheless, Shell is putting its corporate profits ahead of the future of the planet and preparing to drill in a region where an oil spill cannot be cleaned up.”
The Arctic spans eight countries, is home to more than 13 million people and provides habitat for whales, polar bears, walruses and rare seals. And now, it’s a battleground to keep oil giant Shell and others from drilling offshore.