Activists boarded the ship East Ambition this week and chained themselves to the vessel, protesting over the import of palm kernel animal feed. They claim it is linked to the destruction of rainforests.
Tauranga Area Commander Inspector Mike Clement says police have on Wednesday removed all 14 Greenpeace protesters who boarded the ship.
Police used a crane and cage and were raised to the height of four storeys to cut the cables that tied the protesters to the ship’s steel cables extending from its cranes.
The protesters were charged with illegally boarding a vessel. They would be bailed to appear in the Tauranga District Court within the next week.
Farmers called for piracy charges to be laid against the protesters. "I fully respect the freedom of Greenpeace to protest legally but they have crossed the line by interfering with legal commerce and free navigation on the high seas," said Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson.
He described the protest as "economic treason". He claimed Greenpeace was anti-farming: "It’s a despicable new tactic that has Greenpeace’s loathing of farming written all over that ship."
Fonterra not involved
Meanwhile Greenpeace is rejecting a claim from Fonterra the palm kernel at the centre of a protest is not theirs.
But Greenpeace spokesman Simon Boxer says Fonterra cannot deny its link to the shipment.
"They are driving this. They are directly doing shipments as well, with their own companies, but there are other suppliers involved in supplying Fonterra dairy farms.”
John Lea, chief executive of Fonterra’s rural merchandising company RD1, said the East Ambition was not carrying a shipment for Fonterra.
"So taking a Fonterra banner out and chaining themselves to this ship is nothing more than a dangerous publicity stunt that puts people’s lives at risk and potentially damages New Zealand’s reputation as a lawful country," he said.
RD1’s supplier, Wilmar, was a founding member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil. A recent audit by the World Bank found that Wilmar was managing its operations in accordance with the roundtable’s principles, Lea said.