With World Fisheries Day commemorations held annually on the 21st of November to draw attention to the state of the world's fisheries resources, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) commits itself to intensify its campaign to protect marine resources and to reduce poaching activity.
During the last four months, our Fisheries Control Officers (CFO's), with the help of various units of the South African Police Service and other law enforcement agencies, arrested more than 100 people for their involvement in poaching activities.
Last night, at around 8pm, these committed officials arrested the highest number of people in one single incident to date. Nineteen men who were diving for abalone at Soetfontein near Gans Bay will appear in the Gans Bay Magistrate's Court tomorrow (Thursday, 22 November 2012) after they were found in possession of 3 838 shucked abalone (527.6kg). Two vehicles were also confiscated. Three of the men who were arrested, were also arrested in August 2012 for the same offense.
Police also found 1 351 shucked and 182 un-shucked abalone (291kg) at a house in Hangklip during an early morning raid today. On Monday three men were also arrested when the SAPS's Flying Squad discovered the largest consignment of abalone this year, a total of 36 929 dried, in a minibus the suspects were travelling in.
Last month, 18 alleged abalone poachers were arrested, four vehicles were impounded and close to 8 000 units of abalone confiscated in three separate incidences and in August 22 men were arrested and 2 900 units of abalone confiscated in three separate incidents of abalone poaching; two vehicles were also seized as well as a rubber-duck.
While DAFF is proud of the achievements made in the fight against poaching, the ideal is still to keep the resources in the water as this would allow an opportunity for stock levels to improve. This is our ultimate aim but poaching thwarts those efforts severely and this, combined with other ecological challenges, has a major impact on our management and recovery plans.