Photo: Supplied/SAPS
Youth in coastal towns have identified abalone poaching as an easy way out of poverty, the findings of an investigation by the provincial standing committee on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture, showed.

According to the report, poached abalone is sold to international crime syndicates in exchange for drugs.

Syndicates receive assistance from gangs who control the drug trade, and young people are dropping out of school to work as poachers, lookouts, or runners, it stated.

Committee chairperson Beverley Schäfer yesterday said following requests by various organisations, it was decided in September 2016 to investigate the impact of abalone poaching in the province.

This took eight months, and a list of recommendations will be put to Parliament.

“A key driver of poaching in coastal communities, as indicated by testimonies received from fishers and (residents), are socio-economic issues. Poaching provides ‘easy money’ for struggling fishers, especially ones who have no fishing rights and quotas.”

Earlier this year, inspectors from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and police raided illegal abalone processing and storage plants that yielded 27 182 dried and 13 837 wet abalone. - Staff Writer