Threats to African penguin population

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Klipspringer
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Re: Rapid fall in African penguin population

Post by Klipspringer » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:31 pm

https://ewn.co.za/2019/07/10/refuelling ... -oil-spill

REFUELLING UNDER SCRUTINY AS SA PENGUINS HIT BY OIL SPILL
Experts said an unknown number of penguins had been affected on the rocky, uninhabited island, which is home to the largest breeding colony of endangered African penguins in the world.


AFP | about 4 hours ago
ST CROIX ISLAND, South Africa – Rangers in wet suits have been searching for oil-tarred penguins in shallow water around St Croix Island off the South African coast as a refuelling spill highlights conservationists' fears over pollution.

Experts said an unknown number of penguins had been affected on the rocky, uninhabited island, which is home to the largest breeding colony of endangered African penguins in the world.

A Liberian-flagged ship spewed between 200 and 400 litres of oil into the sea off Port Elizabeth city during "bunkering" re-fuelling - the process of filling a ship with fuel from another vessel.

The small-scale leakage from the bulk carrier MV Chrysanthi vessel at dawn on Saturday was the second oil spill in the environmentally-sensitive area in three years.

"This is exactly the concern with offshore 'bunkering' that we have been voicing concerns about," Stacey Webb, of the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) charity, told AFP.

"The danger is not over yet. Penguins forage up to 100 kilometres away from the islands (St Croix Island and Bird Island) so they could run into the spill out at sea."

About 20 penguins covered in black sludge have been rescued by national parks rangers so far.

The weekend spill follows one in August 2016 when about 100 birds were affected by a smaller "bunkering" spill.

"Bunkering" only started in Ngqura port, part of Algoa Bay, in 2016, with the shipping industry promoting it as an economic boost for the area.

Plans to develop the bay into a major re-fuelling hub for international vessels have generated widespread controversy, with conservationists and the tourism sector saying the risk of pollution is too high.

DECLINING POPULATION

African penguins, which are only found in South Africa and Namibia, are also known as jackass penguins for their braying call.

They re-colonised a beach near Cape Town in the 1980s and have since become a major tourist attraction.

But there are only 50,000 mature African penguins alive, according to the UN conservation red list.

"Is the money generated out of 'bunkering' in Algoa Bay worth putting the survival of a species at risk?" asked Jack Peeton, manager of Raggy Charters, a tour operator which organises whale watching and deep-sea excursions.

He said he had taken tourists to St Croix Island on Monday, only to be "greeted by the grim sight of rangers loading penguins covered with thick oil into small boats."

Port Elizabeth tourism consultant Peter Myles said the area plays a unique role in the penguins' survival.

"'Bunkering' in Algoa Bay has been a point of discussion with concerns raised over regulation," he told AFP.

"There are significant environmental risk factors, and St Croix Island supports the largest breeding population of the African penguin on the planet."

The government described the weekend spill as a "tier-one incident" that did not require national intervention, though it added strong winds were hampering operations.

The South African Marine Safety Authority (Samsa) has launched aerial surveillance to determine the extent of the oil spill, which is drifting out to sea rather than onshore.

Neville Noble of Samsa told AFP that bunkering was in line with government policy to opening up the ocean economy under the so-called Operation Phakisa and that operators underwent "a strict auditing process".

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Lisbeth
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Re: Rapid fall in African penguin population

Post by Lisbeth » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:37 pm

Obviously not strict enough O/
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Re: Rapid fall in African penguin population

Post by Lisbeth » Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:22 pm

Rangers nab 12 more penguins for cleanup

up to 40 birds believed to be affected by Algoa Bay oil spill so far

BY GUY ROGERS - 10 July 2019


Image

The threat to seabirds from even a small oil spill is becoming apparent in the wake of the bunkering incident in Algoa Bay at the weekend.

https://www.heraldlive.co.za/news/2019- ... r-cleanup/
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Dzombo
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Re: Rapid fall in African penguin population

Post by Dzombo » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:53 am

Article from "The Times" newspaper
IMG_6392.jpg
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Lisbeth
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Re: Threats to African penguin population

Post by Lisbeth » Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:49 pm

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Ships’ risky fuel transfers are threatening African Penguins

BY PETER RYAN, KATRIN LUDYNIA, LORIEN PICHEGRU - 3RD SEPT 2019 - THE CONVERSATION

The African Penguin is in serious trouble. Its population has fallen by more than 95% over the last century and, despite ongoing conservation efforts, its numbers continue to fall. There are now barely 20,000 breeding pairs in the world – and the largest colony is in South Africa, on islands around Algoa Bay in the country’s Eastern Cape province.

There are several reasons for the decline in African Penguin numbers. Historically, egg collecting played a major role in decreasing population numbers, and guano scraping for fertiliser removed important nesting habitats. But today the main threat the African Penguin faces is a shortage of the small fish it prefers to feed on.

Environmental changes coupled with local overfishing have seen the penguin’s prey shift their range from the west coast upwelling region to South Africa’s south coast. However, there are very few suitable breeding islands off the south coast, and that leaves the penguins with few safe breeding locations.

Now oil spills from a project that’s designed to harness the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans are threatening the world’s largest remaining African Penguin colony. Although there is a need to balance economic development and conservation, the African Penguin is an endangered species and – given that it is home to the largest colony – South Africa is largely responsible for ensuring its survival.

Oil spills

The colony is on St Croix Island, next to Coega harbour in Algoa Bay near the city of Port Elizabeth. The harbour is a deep-water, free trade port that’s a key component of Operation Phakisa – a government drive to promote the “blue” (ocean) economy.

For the last three years ship-to-ship bunkering, which involves the transfer of fuel from one vessel to another at sea, has been permitted in the bay close to this crucial seabird breeding island. In that time there have been two oil spills that have killed penguins and other seabirds in the area.

The Marine Pollution (Control and Civil Liability) Act 6 of 1981 prohibits such routine bunkering off the South African coast because it is an inherently risky operation. Small leaks in pipelines or tank overflows can cause serious pollution. Once oil has been spilled it is dispersed by currents and the wind. This makes it very difficult to contain.

Oil spills have severe effects on seabirds. Oil reduces the seabirds’ insulation, leaving them vulnerable to hypothermia. It also causes skin irritation and ulcers. They try to preen oil off their plumage, invariably ingesting some of the highly toxic fuel oil, which disrupts their endocrine systems. Penguins are especially prone to oiling because they are flightless, and so are unable to fly over polluted areas.

Rehabilitation facilities such as the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds SANCCOB do a tremendous amount to try and mitigate the effects of oil spills. But research shows that oiled African Penguins which are cleaned and released have lower breeding success than unoiled birds.

The two oils spills – one in 2016 and the other in July this year – near St Croix have affected at least 220 African Penguins and there are about 15,000 in the colony.

In each case, penguin nests containing eggs and chicks were abandoned. Cape Gannets and Cape Cormorants, both listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as globally endangered, were also oiled. Fortunately, both spills were relatively minor. A major spill could impact a large proportion of the beleaguered African Penguin population.

Environmental damage

This is a hugely worrying situation. No environmental risk assessment has been conducted for the bunkering operations that have led to two oil spills. This is also despite the fact that the bay is a marine biodiversity hotspot, and its seabird breeding islands fall within the recently-declared Addo Marine Protected Area.

A number of environmental stakeholders, including BirdLife South Africa, have repeatedly raised concerns about this practice. But their objections have been ignored.

Ship-to-ship bunkering in Algoa Bay should be halted pending a thorough cost-benefit assessment of the practice. We don’t know the benefits to the local economy, but the costs of oil spills are clear: they negatively affect local fisheries and the burgeoning marine tourism sector, as well as several endangered species.

Alistair McInnes, Manager of BirdLife Seabird Conservation Programme; Christina Hagen of BirdLife South Africa; and Christian Triay of SANCCOB also contributed to this article.

Original article: https://theconversation.com/ships-risky ... enguins%20
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