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Enviro Activists Protest Shell Oil Ship

When a ship from Royal Dutch Shell oil company sailed into Portland the morning of July 25 to repair damages sustained while breaking ice in the Aleutian Islands, environmental activists with the #sHellNo movement were there to greet it.

About 100 activists from across the state joined the Climate Action Coalition (CAC), which includes Portland 350, Portland Rising Tide and Our Children’s Trust, in rallying against Shell’s ship MSV Fennica in an action similar to the June protests that took place against the Polar Pioneer oil rig in Seattle. In kayaks, canoes, small boats and inflatables, the kayaktivists took to the waters of the Willamette River’s Swan Island basin to voice their discontent with Shell’s drilling for oil in the Arctic.

The kayaktavists coordinated holding signs calling for climate justice along where the Fennica is docked. 

As of press time, Fennica is still in docked in Portland, and activists plan to meet the ship on the river as it is leaving in a last ditch effort to “stop this insanity,” says Daphne Wysham, climate and energy director at the Center for Sustainable Economy and CAC affiliate. 

Portland vs. Shell organizer Antonio Zamora, inspired by Indigenous resistance group Idle No More, says he thinks activists could be doing more. Zamora was in Seattle for the kayak blockade that thwarted Shell’s Polar Pioneer for several hours. Zamora says he is gravely worried about the fate of the Arctic. 

“The flotilla isn’t going to save shit,” Zamora says. 

Zamora says that the shipyard where Fennica is docked, Vigor Industrial, needs to be targeted for non-violent resistance to stop repairs. “If a small group of people can stop the Polar Pioneer for a few hours, imagine what a few hundred people could do,” he says. 

Early in the morning of July 29, 13 Greenpeace activists rappelled off the St. Johns Bridge over the Willamette to block the Fennica. See EW’s Twitter feed and blog for updates.  — Mike Bivins