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Rig protest

Mere Naleba
Monday, June 02, 2014

A FIJIAN was part of Greenpeace's protest against the drilling of oil in the Barents Sea in Norway last week.

Apisalome Waqanisau — a crew member of the Greenpeace ship Esperanza — was part of the support crew for activists who stormed the Transocean Spitsbergen Oil Rig, which was contracted by the Norway oil company Statoil to start drilling in the world's northern-most oil well. Mr Waqanisau and his crew mates helped anchor the Esperanza on the spot where the drilling was to take place.

Fifteen protesters boarded the oil rig on Tuesday but were removed by the Norway coast guard.

Mr Waqanisau, 28, said on his Facebook page that he "had an awesome time getting to know these absolutely amazing activists" who boarded the rig.

The protest, which stopped the drilling for at least 89 hours, is estimated to have cost Statoil $1.26million per day.

Fellow Greenpeace volunteer Fenton Lutunatabua, who worked with Mr Waqanisau as a volunteer with Greenpeace, said Mr Waqanisau's actions did not surprise him as he would do anything to protect the environment.

"I've known Api for a very long time and I've always known that he is someone who is motivated by sheer integrity and passion for what he believes in," Mr Lutunatabua said.

"Since our involvement with Greenpeace in 2007, Api has always had a foundation of non-violence and bearing witness of independence and it's no shock to me that Api is doing something like this."

The pair were also part of a Greenpeace protest in Mackay, Queensland, Australia in 2009 when they were crew members on the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior.

The 2009 protest was against coal mining in Queensland the protest lasted 36 hours, costing the Queensland mining industry $20m.

Another colleague, Kelvin Anthony, spoke highly of Mr Waqanisau's involvement.

"There is no surprise to see the action Api is involved with in Norway," Mr Anthony said.

"Non-violent direct action and bearing witness are core values of the work Greenpeace does.

"Api is part of this extraordinary organisation because he believes in its principles and he knows that he can make a difference."

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