African Penguin Conservation: scientists meet to iron out differences

DECEMBER 1, 2014

The future of the endangered African Penguin will be determined by a few scientists meeting on Monday in Cape Town. The meeting is set to tackle the question of whether fishing around penguin colonies should be banned.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has asked the experts to examine the findings of a study on the efficacy of prohibiting fishing in the vicinity of islands on which penguin colonies have been established.

The department ran the study over six years in partnership with several universities.


But the study produced seemingly contradictory results, complicating the planning of how to prevent the further decline of the penguin population.

There are estimated to be 18 000 pairs of penguins on South African territory. This is less than half the population recorded in the year 2000.

The study examined the effects of banning fishing for sardines and anchovies around penguin-breeding colonies. But the results of the study - conducted in Western Cape and Eastern Cape - are contradictory.

The study found that buffer zones around the islands in Algoa Bay, Eastern Cape, had a positive effect, while the opposite occurred at Robben Island and Dassen Island, in Western Cape.

Professor Doug Butterworth, of the University of Cape Town, told Timeslive that, although there was broad agreement that prohibition had worked in Algoa Bay, it was not conclusive.

Read more about the endangered African Penguin here.