South Africa closes penguin colony areas to commercial fishing

South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has closed areas around major penguin colonies along the country’s coast to commercial anchovy and sardine fishing.

“These restrictions follow prolonged negotiations with the seabird conservation groups and the pelagic fishing industry representatives,” a statement by the Department said.

The Department noted that despite negotiations the closure, which runs to 14 January 2023, did not represent a consensus position between the seabird conservation groups and the pelagic industry representatives.

Areas affected include those around Dassen Island, Robben Island, Stony Point, Dyer Island, St. Croix Island, and Bird Island; while purse seine fishing is also not permitted in False Bay, which hosts the resident Boulders Beach penguin population.

“During the negotiations, both sectors were committed to discussions and offered meaningful contributions from insights into the fishing industry and conservation science,” the Department said.

An international scientific panel, would, during the closure period, have opportunity to “set up to review all related science output over recent years.” A gazette notice calling for nominations to serve on the review panel is scheduled for release by Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy. Representatives from the fishing and bird conservation sectors, in consultation with the Department, have already agreed on the terms of reference for establishing the science review and the panel members.

“The review will advise the Department on the value of fishing limitations for penguins’ success, as well as the impacts such limitations will have on the fishing industry,” the Department said.

According to the Department, South Africa’s sardine stock “continues to be at historically low levels with competition for food is thought to be one among a set of pressures that are contributing to the decline of the African penguin population.”

“Other pressures include shipping traffic and the associated noise and vibrations, pollution and degradation of suitable nesting habitats through historic removal of guano and coastal commercial and residential developments,” the Department added.

Official records indicate the species, which is endemic to South Africa and Namibia, “has decreased from more than a million breeding pairs to just about ten thousand pairs over the last century.”  

Photo courtesy of Pocholo Calapre/Shutterstock


Source link :

Author :

Publish date : 2022-09-23 18:29:24

share on: