Two suspected poachers were apprehended after authorities received tip-offs from the public about potential poaching activities at Smitswinkel Bay.
A prompt response by the South African National Parks (SANParks) Environment Crime Investigation (ECI) Unit, its Canine Unit and the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) Marine Unit Rangers led to the apprehension of the two suspects, who were found with a total of 291 units of abalone.
They were taken to the SAPS and will face charges related to illegal harvesting, SANParks said. The confiscated abalone was handed over for further action.
“This successful operation is a testament to SANParks' dedication to combat illegal activities that threaten marine resources. The TMNP incorporates the two Marine Protected Areas (MPA), Table Mountain MPA and Robben Island MPA. These ensure protection of the unique marine ecosystems around the Cape Peninsula, including restricted and controlled zones.
SANParks encourages the public who are a critical stakeholder in the successful management of national parks to continue reporting any suspicious activities related to illegal actions and by so doing, contribute to the preservation of our natural environment,” SANParks said.
Meanwhile, a 35-year-old man was expected to appear in the Gqeberha New Law Court on Monday in connection with the discovery of R1.2 million worth of abalone.
Hawks spokesperson Yolisa Mgolodela said the suspect was arrested by the Economic Protected Resources(EPR) team of Serious Organised Crime Investigation of the Hawks in Gqeberha jointly with Dark Water Operations, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) and SAPS Port of Entry members on Saturday by the sea at Noordhoek.
“It is alleged that on December 9 at about 4am , EPR members received information indicating where a rubber duck was about to offload abalone.
The members arrived at the scene and found the rubber duck stuck on the sand where people were in the process of offloading the abalone but fled the scene,” Mgolodela said.
Authorities had since been on the lookout for the alleged perpetrators until Saturday, when information was received which led to the arrest of the suspect in his diving gear while about to enter the sea at Noordhoek.