South Africa is working hard to combat the illegal wildlife trade as well as illegal unreported, and unregulated fishing, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor said on Wednesday.
Pandor was delivering a keynote address at the Oppenheimer Research Conference in Midrand.
She said that over the years, the government has supported the Oppenheimer gathering as they do impressive work on promoting conservation and supporting scientific research to address the challenges we are facing.
The Minister said Oppenheimer’s commitment to developing dedicated young environmental researchers who work on conservation and are seeking to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change is what we urgently need at this juncture.
Pandor mentioned that the government is working to finalise the white paper on the conservation and sustainable use of South Africa’s biodiversity and raised concerns regarding the threats to SA’s biodiversity.
The Minister said #SAForeignPolicy needs to be informed by scientific inputs covering all types of sciences, from physical to human sciences.
South Africa has long been a leader in wildlife conservation, and its efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade have been praised by international bodies such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The country has also taken steps to address illegal fishing, including by establishing a dedicated fisheries enforcement unit and increasing the number of patrol vessels at sea.
However, the challenges remain significant. The illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars annually, and it is having a devastating impact on many species, including elephants, rhinos, and pangolins.
Illegal fishing is also a major problem, and it is estimated that up to one-third of all fish caught globally is caught illegally. This is having a serious impact on fish stocks and marine ecosystems.
South Africa’s commitment to combating these challenges is commendable, and it is hoped that its efforts will help to protect the country’s rich biodiversity and marine resources for future generations.