SANBI scientist among 5 Pew marine conservation fellows for 2016

25 February 2016

 2016 Pew Fellow in Marine ConservationSANBI’s Dr Kerry Sink has been named among five distinguished scientists and conservationists from countries including Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, and the United States as a 2016 recipient of the Pew fellowship in marine conservation. The fellowships support research to improve ocean conservation and management.

SANBI CEO, Dr Tanya Abrahamse, said she was delighted with the recognition of one of the organisation’s top scientists by the Pew Trust. “For us, this award highlights the importance of conserving the marine environment, emphasises the need for good science, and celebrates women in science”.

Marine Protected Areas

Sink’s work focuses on expanding and strengthening marine protected areas (MPAs) and using other measures for effective spatial management of ocean biodiversity. Currently, MPAs cover less than half of a percent of South Africa’s waters compared to about 8% of our land area. South Africa is also implementing Marine Spatial Planning and new biodiversity and other maps can help this process. Sink will add to and improve maps of sensitive ecosystems, threatened species, foraging areas and even key food production areas in the ocean. Maintaining ecosystem services such as sustainable fisheries is a key part of effective integrated ocean management.

A 2014 presidential initiative, Operation Phakisa (of which Sink is a team member), commits South Africa to safeguarding 5 percent of its marine waters by 2017. Twenty-one potential MPAs have been proposed, and the government has committed to identify an additional 5 percent of South Africa’s waters for protection by 2019.


Sink, Ph.D., is using her Pew marine fellowship to help South Africa’s existing and new MPAs provide biodiversity benefits and is working with key industry sectors to build the knowledge base to help reach the goal of protecting 10 percent of South Africa’s waters. She is also conducting research to define, map, and make others aware of critical areas where MPAs would help conserve the nation’s ocean biodiversity.

The new fellows will work to investigate the possibility of closing the high seas to fishing, to establish marine protected areas in the waters off South Africa, to develop Sri Lanka’s first marine conservation organisation focused on education and public engagement, and to foster shark conservation in Central America.

Read an article co-authored by Kerry Sink about ACEP/Phakisa Ocean cruises, a partnership between the Department of Environmental Affairs and the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme.

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Submitted by Deshni Pillay at 25/02/2016 - 12:45
Well done Kerry! Very proud of you and your contribution to marine conservation efforts!!!

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