Reflecting on Sea Shepherd's Year of Protecting Antarctica

woensdag, 21 Feb, 2024

In the past year, Sea Shepherd embarked on two critical missions to safeguard Antarctica's marine ecosystem from the destructive krill fishing fleet.

The Allankay on Operation Antarctic Defense. Photo by Mika van der Gun/Sea Shepherd

Documenting the Impact

Our mission began earnestly on February 21, 2023, when the Allankay set sail for Antarctica, signaling Sea Shepherd’s renewed pledge to protect the whales, penguins, seals, and other marine wildlife in this remote region – including the krill they all depend on to survive.

After chasing the illegal whaling fleet and toothfish poachers Sea Shepherd out of Antarctica over five years ago, we’re now targeting the destructive krill fishing industry’s operations. Our encounters with their fleet near the South Orkney Islands in March 2023 exposed these massive supertrawlers dragging their huge nets right through the middle of a mega pod of over 100 fin whales, literally stealing the krill from their mouths.

Unfortunately, this is 100% legal. To change the laws, we need to bring global attention to the destructive practices of the krill fishing fleet and demand change.

The footage and images we captured of this horrific scene were shared worldwide, igniting debate about the need for the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and a massive reduction, if not a total ban, on krill fishing in Antarctica.

A krill fishing vessel trawls in the middle of a fin whale megapod in March 2023. Photo by Flavio Gasperini/Sea Shepherd Global.

Advocating for Change

Our persistence was rewarded when the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) decided against increasing the krill catch quota during their conference in October 2023. This decision, influenced partly by the compelling evidence we presented, marks an important step in the right direction. Yet, it also underscored the need for continued vigilance and advocacy for even greater protections for the Antarctic ecosystem.

Continued Commitment Amidst Challenges

Undeterred, Sea Shepherd launched a second expedition within the same year, documenting ongoing krill fishing impacts. In addition to fighting through intergovernmental bodies, this month, Sea Shepherd launched the first phase of a global markets campaign calling on volunteers around the world to upload photographs of krill products being sold in their local stores. This grassroots campaign will hit the industry at the consumer level by calling out the brands using krill in unnecessary products such as omega-3 supplements, pet food, and farmed fish feed.

A krill supertrawler fishing amidst penguins feeding on krill in February 2024. Photo by Youenn Kerdavid/Sea Shepherd

Thanks for Keeping Us on the Frontlines

Navigating through Antarctica's challenging conditions and confronting the realities of industrial fishing in what should be a pristine wilderness has only strengthened our resolve to continue the fight. None of this could have been possible without the unwavering support of Sea Shepherd’s donors around the world.

Sea Shepherd's relentless pursuit to protect Antarctica's delicate ecosystem underscores the urgent need for action. As we continue our fight for the preservation of Antarctica's pristine wilderness and its extraordinary wildlife, we invite you to stand with us. Whether through donating, volunteering, or spreading awareness about the critical importance of marine conservation efforts, your support is invaluable in safeguarding the future of our oceans. Together, let's make a difference. Thank you for standing with us.

Learn More about Operation Antarctic Defense

Allankay crew in Antarctica. Photo Youenn Kerdavid/Sea Shepherd