S Africa implements fishing prohibition to safeguard endangered penguins

South Africa on Friday said it will enforce a 10-year fishing moratorium near penguin colonies as a measure to rescue the threatened bird species from the edge of extinction.

During a press conference, Environment Minister Barbara Creecy emphasized that the critically endangered African penguin, which is native to South Africa and Namibia, faces the risk of extinction by 2035 if no measures are implemented.

“I have taken a decision to implement fishing limitations in the waters around penguin colonies for a minimum of 10 years,” Creecy said.

The small black and white bird, known for its clumsy land movements and its swift underwater agility, has experienced a significant plummet in its population.

From the roughly one million mating pairs, as penguins are monogamous, that congregated along the coastlines of southern Africa a century ago, merely 10,000 pairs remain today, as reported by the ministry.

One of the primary factors contributing to the decline, as stated by Creecy, is believed to be competition for food resources.

The degradation of suitable nesting habitats and pollution from ship traffic are also contributing factors, she added.

Diseases and extreme weather events, such as heavy rains that result in the destruction of nests and chicks, have also had a negative impact, according to experts.

The fishing prohibition will encompass six key penguin habitats, encompassing locations like Robben Island, historically known for its apartheid-era prison, as well as Bird Island.

The determination was based on an expert report and will undergo a review after six years of execution and data gathering, as stated by Creecy.

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