The City of Cape Town's Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit has added an eighth rubber duck to their fleet of watercraft. Picture: City of Cape Town/Supplied

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town's Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit has added an eighth rubber duck to their fleet of watercraft. 

The unit, which was established in 2013, continues to fight the illegal extraction of marine resources along the City's 300 km coastline.

"The ocean is one of our most valuable natural food resources. Increasingly marine resources are under threat and it is not inexhaustible. The continued abuse of this resource harms our local economy and the environment. Fighting the illegal poaching of sea life is critical and with the new addition to their fleet of rubber ducks this unit can further expand their reach," said Mayco Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith.

The specialised Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit was established in 2013 and its focus has been marine and coastal law enforcement, including inshore boat patrols.

The new addition to the fleet is a 5,9 metre rubber duck with a semi rigid hull.

"This is a high performance vessel with two outboard engines and a 100 litre fuel tank. It is lighter, stealthier and the boat is able to cut through choppy water and waves which makes chasing down poachers easier. The boat is highly maneuverable in inshore waters and is easier to launch and retrieve. It has a superior level of buoyancy compared to a conventional boat and can therefore carry more weight," said Smith.

The new addition to the fleet is a 5,9 metre rubber duck with a semi rigid hull. Picture: City of Cape Town/Supplied

The City and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) signed an Implementation Protocol in 2016 that paved the way for closer cooperation in the fight against poaching.

Through the Implementation Protocol with DAFF, City Law Enforcement officers were trained and appointed as fishery control officers in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act 18 of 1998, with full powers.

During the last three months the 15-man unit has made 10 arrests, executed 373 proactive patrols to disrupt poachers, issued 536 fines and impounded 7 045 units of marine life, mostly abalone.

Much of the marine life is abandoned by poachers when they are disturbed.

Smith commended the unit's officers for their dedication and hard work.

"Marine life around the world are under threat because of poaching, over fishing and litter dumped into the oceans. While we realise that there are people who make a living from the sea, the wanton pillaging cannot be allowed to go unchecked. 

"If we do there will soon be nothing left for anyone and species will go extinct. Our officers do not just catch those who poach, but also ensure the sustainability of resources and the survival of marine life," explained Smith.

Calvin Magerman on the City's Marine Law Enforcement new watercraft. Picture: City of Cape Town/Supplied

Cape Argus