Where does all the abalone go?

2017-10-31 06:01
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says it is concerned about the amount of illegal abalone being taken from the ocean.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says it is concerned about the amount of illegal abalone being taken from the ocean.

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llegal abalone fishing along South African shores is something the authorities say they are greatly concerned about – with thousands of these precious sea snails already confiscated from poachers since the beginning of 2017.

Last week People’s Post approached the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to find out where exactly the confiscated units of abalone, or perlemoen as it is commonly known, end up. According to Carol Moses, department spokesperson, it is the norm for it to be taken to the department’s Marine Living Resources Fund (MLRF).

“The confiscated abalone is auctioned off and the proceeds go to the fund,” Moses says.

Prevention

The department has, however, taken drastic steps to prevent abalone poaching.

“The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the MLRF are part of the multi-agency compliance and enforcement initiative that forms part of Operation Phakisa – Oceans Economy Initiative. Five of these agencies are mainly responsible for the protection of our ocean’s natural resources, including abalone,” Moses says.

Operation Phakisa, meaning “hurry up” in Sesotho, also focuses on unlocking the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans, which could contribute up to R177 bn to the gross domestic product by 2033, and between 800 000 and one million direct jobs, according to the department’s website.

“The department and its fund are also working with the organised international communities to deal with the global scourge of illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, including addressing the international illegal markets for abalone and other marine living resources.

“This is indicative of the fact that the department is not merely concerned about, but is dealing with, the illegal harvesting of marine living resources.”

Ongoing education

Asked how many arrests have been made in connection with abalone poaching since the start of the year, and how much of this marine resource has been confiscated, Moses says that arrests are carried out by different law enforcement agencies and that the department would need to consult other role players to determine the exact number.

However, Moses says that to educate the public about the importance of abalone, the department has an ongoing education, awareness and stakeholder engagement programme in place.

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