Capetonians are all too familiar with the devastating effect that oil spills and other maritime activities have on our iconic African Penguins. But few realise that seabirds as a whole are the most threatened group of birds in the world, with nearly one third of all seabird species under threat, mostly from fishing and pollution.
Every year, an estimated 320 000 seabirds are accidentally killed in fishing activities worldwide. Seventeen of the 22 albatross species are threatened with extinction, while the number of breeding pairs of African Penguins has plummeted 96% since 1956.
The SOS Festival is on at the VA Waterfront until 16 October 2011 and is a National Marine Week Initiative, being held in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs, Iziko Museums and the VA Waterfront.
Highlights of the festival include the “Oceans of Life” photographic competition at the Iziko South African Museum, which will remain open until 20 November 2011.
Activities at the VA Waterfront include daily live cooking shows by professional chefs who will demonstrate how to prepare sustainably harvested seafood. Documentary films will be screened at the Amphitheatre from 13:00 daily. A team from the Ocean View Association for Persons with Disabilities will be in the Blue Shed Craft Centre daily, making devices to prevent seabirds from being killed during commercial fishing. There are also free daily tours of working IJ commercial fishing vessels, and two birding tours to Robben Island.
The last lecture will be held on Friday evening.
The SOS Festival is not only an important way to highlight the plight of vulnerable seabirds, but also to an opportunity to demonstrate how BirdLife South Africa is working with the fishing industry to address the issue and develop practical solutions, such as the Albatross Task Force. Since its inception in 2006, this has reduced seabird mortality by 80% through the use of brightly coloured plastic flags on lines to scare birds from flying into areas which are dangerous to them.
For more information, visit the festival website.