Cape Town - 120327 - 2.6 tons valued at R7.5 million of abalone was confiscated by SARS Customs officials in a joint effort with Hong Kong officials and unloaded at the storage in Paardeneiland. The abalone was not intercepted on its way to Hong Kong last year, but has been returned through a negotiation with Hong Kong officials. The product is valued at R27 million in Asian markets, where the abalone is predominantly demanded. An effort has been made to combat abalone poaching by teaming up the Department of Agriculture, Fishing and Forestry, the NPA, SARS, the Asset Forfeiture Unit, and Hawks. No local arrests have been made but some have been made in Hong Kong and South Africa is negotiating for the perpetrators to be tried in South Africa. The abalone will go through processes determined by the Dep of Agriculture and will be auctioned. PICTURE: THOMAS HOLDER

Cape Town - Sea Point has become the focus of more police patrols as brazen perlemoen poachers are now operating off the coastline there.

Shaheen Moola, chief executive of the marine research company Feike, said as perlemoen stocks decreased in areas where poaching typically occurred, including the Overstrand, poachers started targeting areas that were less known for poaching, including Sea Point.

Earlier this month, members of the public had told police about a diver in the water near Mouille Point, a marine reserve.

Around 10pm, two people were spotted in the area where the diver had been in the water.

According to police, they tied a rope to a pole. One person lowered himself to the sea, re-emerged with a bag and handed it to the second person. This person took the bag and walked to Beach Road where he got into a taxi.

Police stopped the taxi and arrested a 50-year-old man who was found with 67 shucked perlemoen worth about R20 000.

Moola said poaching off Sea Point had not been “nearly as devastating as in the Overstrand”.

“Here (in Sea Point) abalone is growing year by year…

“Inevitably, because abalone is increasingly hard to find in the Overstrand, people are coming around the mountain to poach,” Moola said.

The positive aspect about the Sea Point stretch was that “rights holders”, people with permits allowing them to operate there, reported poaching, Moola said.

He said unlike the Overstrand area, more resources were focused on the Sea Point area to prevent poaching.

Bernard Liedemann, deputy director of the monitoring and surveillance directorate of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department, confirmed there had been sporadic incidents of poaching in Sea Point.

“The area was never known to stock abalone in the quantities known in other areas,” he said.

Liedemann said in one case, the Sea Point police had contacted him in the early hours of December 18 about poaching in the Sea Point area.

He said a suspect was arrested with 28 perlemoen.

Liedemann said the department would conduct patrols and inspections in the area and increase it if necessary.

Police spokesman Frederick van Wyk said following the arrest of the suspected perlemoen poacher in Sea Point this month, vehicle, vessel and foot patrols had been increased.

“Patrols continue daily,” he said.

“The area from Sea Point swimming pool to Mouille Point is known for poaching and patrols are directed at these areas.”

Van Wyk said investigations into poaching in the area were ongoing and at a sensitive stage.

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Cape Times