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Kayaktivists promise protests if Shell oil rig returns

About 21 kayaktivists hit the water to protest the Noble Discoverer as it left Everett. Five protesters were cited for violating the safety zone. (Valerie Costa)

Anti-Shell protesters sent out a call early Tuesday, and this time it wasn’t a false alarm.

Kayaktivists rushed into the water to meet Shell’s Noble Discoverer as it left Everett Tuesday morning. The turnout was smaller than the Seattle protest earlier in June as the Polar Pioneer left town. About 21 people went onto the water this time.

Related: Shell foots bill to clean up Seattle protesters’ leftover barge anchors and cables

The Coast Guard was on the shore as the protesters launched their boats, making sure kayaktivists had proper life jackets and safety equipment, according to Petty Officer First Class George Degener.

“They are perfectly within their rights to protest and make their voices heard and we encourage them to do so, but they have to be in the safety zone,” he said.

Some protesters violated that safety zone, a 500 yard buffer around the Noble Discoverer. A total of five kayaktivists were pulled back to shore by the Coast Guard and given $500 citations.

“The Coast Guard and Everett police were out on the water and they made it very clear that we were to stay a certain distance from the rig and if any boats got too close they would detain people,” said Valerie Costa with 350 Seattle, a climate change activist organization.
Costa was among the kayaktivists on the water. She said there were about 15 individual kayaks and one motorboat in the protest.

“We wanted to be there and be a presence on the water and try to stop the rig,” she said. “And if not stop the rig, slow it down. And if not that, at least make sure Shell and people know that there are people who disapprove of drilling in the Arctic.”

While Shell’s drilling rigs have left the Puget Sound, Costa said that this isn’t the last the region has seen of the protestors, especially if Shell plans to return to the area after the drilling season.

“This is just the beginning of resistance here in the Sound,” Costa said. “We have a lot of people trained to take action, to get out on the water in boats. And many more inspired to do it.”

“For every one of us out on the water, we know there are many more people who would love to be out here and would love to do something and believe that there should be no Arctic drilling,” she said.

Activists are already preparing should Shell return to the Puget Sound.

“I think you’ll be seeing more protests, more resistance,” Costa said. “And that will come in the form of protests like this, but also legal action and other action to stop Shell and other companies from drilling, extracting and transporting fossil fuels.”

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