Abalone poaching on the rise since move to lockdown levels 2 and 3
Cape Town - South African National Parks says that it has noted an increase in abalone poaching since the country moved to lockdown level three.
The statement came in response to the recent bust by the police’s Tactical Response Team (TRT) in Bishop Lavis where two foreign nationals were arrested for the possession of abalone worth R3 million.
Police spokesperson Andre Traut said: “The TRT arrested two abalone poachers in Bishop Lavis on Tuesday morning. The team had reacted to a tip-off about an abalone drying facility situated in Bremen Road in the Airport industrial area, Bishop Lavis, and conducted a search operation.
“The operation led to the discovery of wet and dried abalone and drying equipment worth R3 million. Two vehicles were also confiscated from the scene. The two suspects, from Zimbabwe, 23 and 43 years old, are expected to make their court appearance in Bishop Lavis once they have been charged,” said Traut.
SANParks spokesperson Reynold Thakhuli said: “With the relaxed restrictions under lockdown level 2 and 3, such as inter-provincial travel and the launching of non-fishing vessels for recreational fishing, access to the beach was once again permitted, and abalone poaching has once again reared its ugly head.
“Certain areas of the coastline and inshore/nearshore that form part of our Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have a varying degree of vulnerability to poaching, and especially abalone poaching. Some of these poachers are small-scale illegal harvesting, and some are on a more sophisticated and more organised scale by syndicates.
“As SANParks, we have succeeded when it comes to the apprehension of suspects and confiscations of the species that were illegally harvested, and also boats which were used to commit crime. All this was made possible by the effective partnership we have with our stakeholders – most especially the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, the police, and the City,” said Thakhuli.
Last month the organisation apprehended 64 suspected poachers during a joint operation by Table Mountain National Park rangers and the police. The impressive bust was made at the Cape of Good Hope section of the national park.
“This collective management of the MPA is a part of an enforcement initiative and environmental compliance efforts. The effective management of our ongoing operations is done through visible patrols targeting slipways and hot-spot areas where poaching normally takes place, both on land and sea, by the respective management authority, vehicle checkpoints with other law enforcement partners, and also through regular joint operations co-ordinated by Operation Phakisa Initiative 5,” said Thakhuli.