South Africa restricts its fishing to protect penguins
The Republic of South Africa has announced the closure of commercial anchovy and sardine fishing in waters near the largest penguin colonies. The temporary ban will last until January 14, 2023.
The Ministry of the Environment of South Africa spoke about the measures taken, according to a Fishnews correspondent. The ban, introduced on September 1, applies to the waters near the Dassen Island, Robben Island, Dyer, Santa Cruz and Bird Islands, to the waters near the Stony Point nature reserve. Also closed is the purse seine fishery in Falls Bay, where penguins nest regularly on Boulders Beach.
It is noted that the decision was the result of long negotiations between the advocates of seabirds and representatives of the fishing industry. Although the ban was not the result of a consensus between the parties, the ministry believes that now such a decision will best help in saving the penguin population.
It is planned that the interim measure will allow the establishment of an international scientific commission to review the results of all recent studies on the impact of fishing on penguins. As conceived by the ministry, the commission will make recommendations on fishing restrictions to restore the bird population, as well as assess the impact of these measures on the industry.
Representatives of the “greens” and fishermen promised to comply with the recommendations of the international group of experts. In the near future, the ministry is to issue a special statement calling for nominations of candidates for the commission.
Scientists attribute the decline in penguin populations to several reasons. Thus, the number of sardine in the waters of South Africa is still at its lowest level on record, which leads to a shortage of food for birds. Other causes include shipping and associated noise and vibration, as well as pollution and degradation of nesting sites, including coastal development.
Over the past century, the number of penguins endemic to South Africa and Namibia has declined from more than 1 million to about 10,000 breeding pairs, according to the ministry.