'Kayaktivists' surround Shell Oil ship being repaired in Portland to protest Arctic drilling


The battle over Arctic drilling came to Portland Saturday as a group of kayakers protested around a Shell Oil ship that arrived in the Rose City for repairs.

The protestors said they're worried, not only about drilling, but by the impact it could have on our environment.

They call themselves "kayaktivists,” and they gathered on the river near downtown Portland with one message, to stop Arctic drilling.

"For me, it's about climate change," protestor Pat Freiberg said. "If we lose our oceans, what about us? Are we going to make it? I mean are we going to survive when 70 percent of our planet is ocean? No. this is really, really serious."

Dozens of protestors kayaked to the end of Swan Island, where Shell Oil's icebreaker ship, the Fennica, is being repaired. In a few days, it'll head back to Alaska to help with oil drilling operations.

Protesters said they are also worried about the carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

"It's 2015 and 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is happening, that it's severe and that we must keep fossil fuels in the ground," Mia Reback, who organized the protest, explained.

Similar protests were staged in Seattle this summer where activists, also in kayaks, formed a human chain near an oil rig to stop it from leaving port.

Several of the protestors in Seattle were detained by the coast guard, but in Portland they cheered and chanted, hoping their message was heard loud and clear, before they say it's too late.

"In 20 years we could just hit a tipping point and this wouldn't even be a world we recognize any more," Freiberg said.

In response to Saturday’s protest, a Shell Oil spokesperson released the following statement:"We know that the Arctic is an issue that divides opinions, and we respect the right of groups and individuals to express their opinion. We just ask that they do so within the confines of law and that they keep safety as their number one priority."

Protesters said their actions were legal, while Shell Oil says the efforts of other groups in the past haven't always been.

Copyright 2015 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


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