Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

In response to Minister Barbara Creecy’s decision on fishing closures around critical penguin breeding sites, BirdLife South Africa and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), represented by the Biodiversity Law Centre (BLC), have initiated legal action.

Kate Handley, executive director of the Biodiversity Law Centre, underscores the constitutional obligation of the Minister to prevent species extinction. Handley emphasizes the significance of this legal move, pointing out the Minister’s failure to implement meaningful closures around African Penguin breeding areas since 2018.

Despite scientific recommendations advocating for adequate closures, Creecy’s decision extends interim measures that are insufficient for protecting the species’ future.

Dr. Alistair McInnes of BirdLife South Africa highlights the urgency of science-based decisions in safeguarding African Penguins, stressing that the species’ survival hinges on immediate action.

The litigation challenges the Minister’s approach, citing its disregard for critical scientific advice and perpetuation of the penguin population decline.

The applicants’ complaint centers on Creecy’s failure to implement biologically significant closures around African Penguin breeding areas, opting instead for inadequate interim measures.

Dr. Katta Ludynia, SANCCOB’s research manager, criticizes the Minister’s selective adherence to recommendations and failure to address crucial delineation concerns.

Described as a potentially precedent-setting case, the legal action seeks to enforce the South African government’s obligation to protect endangered species, particularly the African Penguin.

It also advocates for science-led decision-making to safeguard the environment and the well-being of endangered species for future generations.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the African Penguin is classified as endangered, with a recovery status indicating a rapid population decline due to commercial fisheries and prey population shifts, necessitating immediate conservation action.

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