Around 300 people in kayaks have blockaded Australia’s biggest coal export port in a protest over climate change.

Activists from Australian pressure group Rising Tide successfully halted movements at the Port of Newcastle on Australia’s east coast this weekend.

And they are promising a “landmark struggle” with mass civil resistance at the port to force more action against fossil fuels.

A total of about 1,500 people were involved in the protest, which is scheduled to continue until Sunday afternoon.

“At present, due to the number of people currently in the shipping channel, all shipping movements have ceased due to safety concerns, irrespective of the cargo they are carrying or intend to load,” a Port of Newcastle spokesperson told Reuters.

Rising Tide said it hoped to block the export of around 500,000 tonnes of coal over the weekend.

Australia is the world’s biggest exporter of coking coal, used to make steel, and the second largest exporter of thermal coal, which is burnt in power stations and a major target for climate activists.

Rising Tide video of the Newcastle blockade

In a statement, the campaigners said: “This is just the beginning of Rising Tide’s campaign to break the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold over our democracy by building a mass civil resistance movement of diverse, everyday people and creating a landmark struggle at the world’s largest coal port.”

Rising Tide added: “Newcastle has the largest coal port in the world, exporting over A$89bn in coal across 2021-2022, accounting for just under 1% of total global carbon emissions.

“We’re blockading coal ships because the government is allowing new coal projects, rather than taxing our massive coal exports to fund rapid community and industrial transition.”

Local police said no arrests had been made over the protest.