The small pelagic fishery is a major contributor to food security through direct human consumption (e.g., canned fish) or indirect human consumption (e.g. bait or fish meal and oil) and employs a large workforce in fishing and related industries and mainly in areas outside the major metropolitan centers.
SAPFIA agrees that the penguin breeding population is in a very depleted state, much reduced from its level at the beginning of the previous century and that the current rate of decline is a serious concern.
SAPFIA, whose members comprise the bulk of small pelagic fishery catches, have participated in an “island closure experiment” since 2008 aimed at determining the scale of the fishing impact on the penguin population decline.
Results from the island closure experiment, evaluated by scientists from UCT’s Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, have recently become available. Their computations have followed the specifications set out by a panel of international scientific reviewers appointed to check the work done by South African scientists.
These analysts conclude that there is little evidence for any impact (in either direction) of fishing in the neighborhood of island colonies on penguin population decline rates and that the best interpretation of the data is still a negligible benefit for penguins.
Based on its involvement in the scientific process, SAPFIA has learned that the scientific work has not followed the methods recommended by the same panel of international scientific reviewers.