Key fishing industry and conservation stakeholders will this week meet to talk about proposals to save the disappearing African penguin confined to southern African waters.
The proposals include limiting fishing around six penguin colonies, a move that could reduce the possible catch for already hard-pressed fishermen.
Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment Minister Barbara Dallas Creecy will host the crucial meeting.
The flightless African penguin, which is also known as the Cape penguin or South African penguin, was declared an endangered species in 2010 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Over the years the endemic African penguin numbers have declined drastically from as many as 52 000 pairs in 2004 to only 13 200 pairs in 2019.
“If current population trajectories continue, African penguins could be functionally extinct within 15 years,” warns the forestry, fisheries, and environment department.
Stakeholders will discuss proposals made to address the decline in the breeding populations of the African Penguin.
They will also look at how to minimise the negative economic impact of such proposals on South Africa’s pelagic fishery.
The colonies identified for intervention are at Dassen Island, Robben Island, Stony Point, Dyer, St. Croix and Bird Islands.
These are not the only existing colonies, but have been identified because they support larger numbers of breeding penguins.
Together these islands are home to about 88% of breeding pairs of African penguins along the South African coastline.
African penguins are an iconic Southern African species with important ecological roles.
They attract significant national and international tourists annually.