Iceberg Harvesting Off Newfoundland's Coast

Ed Kean has been harvesting ice bergs off the northern coast of Newfoundland, Canada for many years.


(Iceberg harvesting off Newfoundland's coast)

Every summer, Mr. Kean, a 53-year-old, fifth-generation sea captain, heads out into the North Atlantic to capture chunks of icebergs that have cleaved off Greenland glaciers and floated southwest. He harvests the ice for a local vodka maker, a brewer, a winery and a bottled-water outfit.

The companies use the water, which has been trapped in glaciers for thousands of years, in their products, marketing it as the purest on the planet. Demand is growing, the companies say, but getting the prized ice is becoming more difficult.

The process at sea includes massive nets, a giant, ship-mounted hydraulic arm and, sometimes, a rifle and chain saw. Mr. Kean now also has to contend with erratic iceberg drifts, increasing fuel costs and some tourist outfits that complain he is chipping away at their iceberg-sighting business.

I believe that this idea had been around for a short while before Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven decided to use it in their 1981 novel Oath of Fealty. However, as is often the case, the first time I (and perhaps most people) had heard about it was in a science fiction novel. On a somewhat larger scale than Mr. Kean can do:

"The iceberg." ...Five hundred billion gallons worth of Antarctic iceberg had been towed into Santa Monica Bay. Los Angeles water had never tasted better; Arizona, San Francisco, and the sea gulls of Mono Lake had never been happier. The berg sat out there in a kind of tub. There were teams of climbers going up two faces, and a dozen Boy Scouts glissading down snow near the bottom. "Romulus Corporation tows the icebergs here..."
(Read more about iceberg harvesting)

Via Wall Street Journal.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/5/2013)

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