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In December 2019[3] DEFF’s Scientific Working Group highlighted the “high risk of incidental catch and entanglements of seabirds and turtles, including species which have an IUCN threat status of either Near-Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered with regard to using long-line and Tuna pole-line. It is important to note that a number of international global environmental accords (e.g. Convention of Migratory Species [CMS], the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels [ACAP] and the Convention on Biological Diversity [CBD], as well as numerous fisheries agreements, obligate signatories States to provide protection for these species. […] Fishery by-catch is among the important factors affecting the status of seabirds” and “The Permit conditions relating to by-catch of pelagic sharks, seabirds, turtles and marine mammals must satisfy international best practices and require strict enforcement”. 

We are aware that, due to limited resources and a huge Exclusive Economic Zone to patrol (nearly 4000 km of coastline, by 200 nautical miles out at sea) South Africa authorities cannot provide anything close to the strict enforcement recommended as a pre-condition to issue permits.  

The United Nations Biodiversity Summit will take place today, Wednesday 30th September, in New York. Sixty-four world leaders, including Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau, Jacinda Ardern and Boris Johnson have signed the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature and committed to clamp down on pollution, embrace sustainable economic systems and eliminate the dumping of plastic and hazards in oceans, halt unsustainable fishing practices, eliminate environmentally harmful subsidies and begin the transition to sustainable food production systems and a circular economy over the next decade, as part of “meaningful action” to halt the destruction of nature on Earth, warning that humanity is in a state of planetary emergency due to the climate crisis and the rampant destruction of life-sustaining ecosystems. We note that South Africa is not among the African signatories. 

We are concerned that it appears there is no medium-term action plan in South Africa, to actively protect our oceans. We once again appeal for an emergency short-term action to control / limit / deter the destruction of key marine animals and species and the negligent discard of fishing gear at sea.                                      

The EMS Foundation eagerly awaits your response to our concerns.  


Image Credit: SABC News, South Africa

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