by Alistair Allan
by Alistair AllanMarine and Antarctic Campaigner
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This is our first stop of the journey.

South Georgia is a Sub-Antarctic Island off the coast of South America. It is home to some of the greatest concentrations of marine life on Earth. King Penguins, Albatross, seals and whales all call this island and its waters home.

The rusting machinery and three beached whaling vessels are a stark reminder of the highly destructive past of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. The whaling station shut down in 1965 but not because of pressure from the international community. Whaling at Grytviken ended because there were no more whales left to kill around South Georgia.

The great whales of Antarctica were almost hunted to extinction. The seals of Antarctica were also nearly wiped out. For this reason, Antarctica should be viewed as a recovering ecosystem.

Walking around the abandoned whaling station, now home to waddling King Penguins and endless fur seals, I was overcome with a sense of hope that destructive industries can come to an end. But it should also serve as a very clear warning light that industry will keep taking and taking until there is nothing left.

There is a new industry that has taken the place of the grounded whaling vessels of South Georgia. There are now modern supertrawlers hoovering krill out of the Southern Ocean. Like a whaling industry reborn, krill fishing threatens whales as their very food source is sucked out of the sea. The penguins of Antarctica face the same threat.

Home to one of the largest King Penguin colonies on Earth, it is hard to describe the feeling of seeing such vibrant, raucous and overwhelming life. Despite visiting Antarctica before, I have never encountered something like this.

Antarctica and the Southern Ocean need total protection now. Emptying the ocean of the very foundation of the ecosystem, upon which all this life depends, is an environmental crime.

As we leave South Georgia in our wake, we are now bound for the fishing grounds where these monster trawlers operate. It is time to confront this rising new industry and tackle it so that the mistakes of history are not repeated.

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