Iceberg hunters storming a pure water business

2 min

Iceberg water in your bottles… It’s a juicy business that has developed on the island of Terre-Neuve in eastern Canada. Iceberg hunters set out to conquer these big masses and then turn them into “luxury” water.

Iceberg hunting in Bonavista Bay, Canada. Their pure water is a very lucrative raw material. © AFP / Johannes Eisele

Several rifle shots to get a piece of ice, then a shovel. With this technique, Edward Kean, a 60-year-old Canadian grinds 1 tonne of ice by shovel. More than twenty years ago, he became one of many iceberg hunters looking for pure water. Every morning, the captain of the Green Waters fishing boat takes off, accompanied by three sailors. They often travel several dozen kilometers to their target in white gold, identified by satellite.

It must be said that it is not just any water they recover. It’s one of the purest in the world. Frozen well before the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century, it was largely spared by pollution.

A wealthy clientele abroad

This “luxury” water is sold for $1 a liter to local businesses. It is bottled or mixed with alcohol to make beer or vodka.

The iceberg water can be sold a dozen euros a bottle in luxury grocery stores. / Berg

For a bottle of water, it takes about 11€, and the price can go up to 60€ for vodka. Not enough to stop the wealthy clientele who consumes well beyond Canada. Dyna-Pro, a Captain Kean customer bottling water, exports its products to Asia and the Middle East.

An controversial environmental impact

If iceberg operators defend against any impact on the acceleration of ice melting, the environmental impact is not zero, according to Gaël Durant, a CNRS glaciologist: “Ecologically speaking, it is an aberration to transport water thousands and thousands of kilometers, from the poles to consumers. But 800,000 liters is nothing compared to the size of icebergs in Greenland.”

Captain Edward Kean and other iceberg hunters looking for pure water are thus far from breaking the huge icebergs that drift each year from Greenland to the shores of Canada.

However, this influx of ice blocks near the island of Terre-Neuve is a symptom of accelerating climate change in the Arctic, which is warming three times faster than the rest of the world. Something to make us hesitate before soaking our lips in this century old beverage.

As mentioned, the poles are warming up at an alerting speed, but forests at the equator are also suffering like never.