2024 Antarctica Campaign Launch Targeting Krill Fishing Fleet

Monday, 22 Jan, 2024

Sea Shepherd’s vessel, the Allankay, has just departed from Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, embarking on its return journey to the Antarctic. This voyage signals the start of our 2024 campaign for 'Operation Antarctica Defense', challenging the Krill Fishing Fleet’s destructive exploitation of the Southern Ocean.

Sea Shepherd crew onboard the Allankay. Photo by Youenn Kerdavid/Sea Shepherd.

"In recent years, we've seen a concerning expansion in the krill fishing fleet, exploiting some of the most remote waters in the world," stated Captain Peter Hammarstedt, Director of Campaigns. "Most people assume that the Antarctic is fully protected from industrial fishing. But over a dozen supertrawlers—each one as large as two Olympic-sized swimming pools—are licensed to kill krill, a foundation species that whales, penguins, seals and the entire ecosystem depends on for survival".

In 2023, Sea Shepherd's efforts brought much-needed attention to the Krill Fishing Fleet's harmful operations. Our crew aboard the Allankay captured startling footage revealing the fleet's invasive trawling through megapods of feeding whales. This crucial evidence played a significant role in the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)'s decision to not increase the krill quota for 2024, despite the fishing industry’s best efforts to have it doubled.

“That is a win for conservation, but a quota of zero would be a victory.”

Captain Hammarstedt, on CCAMLR's rejection of increased krill quotas in 2024.
Sea Shepherd's vessel, the Allankay, on its way to Antarctica. Photo by Youenn Kerdavid/Sea Shepherd.

For this year’s campaign, the crew onboard the Allankay will track and shadow the Krill Fishing Fleet, focusing particularly on their impact on marine wildlife in proposed marine protected areas (MPAs).

Sea Shepherd aims to keep the krill fishery on the political agenda and make the case for why the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Orkney Islands need to be closed off to krill fishing as 'no-take' marine protected areas, a decision the international community will be discussing and voting on later this year.

"When we took on the Japanese whalers and won, we were able to block their harpoons because they were killing whales in blatant violation of international agreements, and we were enforcing the law,” says Captain Hammarstedt. “When we successfully shut down the toothfish poachers, we could chase them around the world and haul up their fishing nets because they were criminals. Now, we face the challenge of legally sanctioned krill fishing, where our strategy must first be to change laws by exposing the damage to whales and the marine ecosystem. Most people would be shocked to learn that it's perfectly legal to drive a supertrawler through a pod of foraging whales, practically running them over".

The 2024 campaign to the Southern Ocean sees Sea Shepherd Global partnering and co-leading the expedition with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.  As the protection of Antarctica and its marine ecosystem affects us all, the mission is also supported by Sea Shepherd Germany, Switzerland and all the countries that are part of the Global movement. The shared goal is to capture the environmental devastation caused by krill fleets red-handed and showcase it to the world.

Learn more about Operation Antarctica Defense

Humpback whale spotted by Allankay crew on the way to Antarctica. Photo by Youenn Kerdavid/Sea Shepherd.
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