IF YOU swam in front of the world's biggest seismic oil ship and could see the 125 metre, 21,195 tonne vessel fast approaching, what would be going through your mind?

The answer, according to 27-year-old Dinas Cross environmental activist, Sara Howell, is sharks.

"The boat looked big, and it was really big," said Sara of her protest in the path of the Amazon Warrior with New Zealand Greenpeace last year. The colossal vessel was searching for oil and gas 60 nautical miles out to sea

"It was getting closer quite quickly but the main thing that was scaring me was the thought of sharks," said Sara. "I kept looking down, looking for sharks. Telling myself that the seismic blasts would scare off large sea life."

Following the protest Sara was issued with a court summons. Both she and Greenpeace New Zealand executive director, Russel Norman, were charged with obstructing the oil exploration ship.

Former Ysgol Bro Gwaun student, Sara, credits her upbringing in Pembrokeshire for her environmental conscience and activism.

"Growing up in this landscape has shaped who I am. It's this that got me involved in environmental campaigns. It is so beautiful," she said.

"I felt supported by this community [during the court process], there's something about how we support each other."

She said she had "absolutely no regrets" about her actions.

"It was great really empowering and quite liberating to have done something you feel is right and important even if it can have consequences and not be seen as proper in everyone's eyes."

Sara faced visa issues and the threat of deportation as she waited for her court hearing and again while waiting for the judge's decision on whether she would be sentenced.

In September this year she was discharged without conviction at Napier District Court, New Zealand. Before the final court hearing the New Zealand government made the historic decision to bring an end to new offshore oil and gas exploration permits.

"I was ecstatic that it was over and that we had been discharged with a clean slate," she said.

"The main thing is that we won what we wanted to win. The government decision was the consequence of years of work that groups had put in place.

"Our actions with the beast [the Amazon Warrior] created a platform to make it really public. There had been all this great work and awareness raising. This was the final strike. I am pretty proud of what we did."