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Robben Island battles poaching scourge with 50 arrests in three months

Robben Island security officials prepare to go out on patrol in the hunt for poachers. Picture: Supplied

Robben Island security officials prepare to go out on patrol in the hunt for poachers. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 1, 2020

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Cape Town - More than 50 poachers have been arrested in the past three months in the waters around Robben Island - 22 of them during March - with the authorities battling to get a handle on the scourge.

Reacting to the reports of poaching on the island, Ex-Political Prisoners Association (EPPA) secretary-general Mpho Masemola said: “Robben Island has turned into a poachers’ paradise, and the situation is escalating almost every day.”

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Masemola said: “Criminal syndicates have captured the shores of Robben Island. The criminals appear to be highly equipped and this is clearly a signal of organised crime. Worst of all, residents are living in fear because these criminals sometimes force their way into houses in search of food and clothing.”

Robben Island Museum spokesperson Morongoa Ramaboa said: “While the museum cannot completely control the demand on these pursued marine species, the immediate goal is to continue supporting any additional technological measures introduced by our partners to combat poaching.”

Ramaboa said the poachers are targeting Robben Island because its coastline is rich in rock lobster (crayfish) and abalone (perlemoen).

Commenting on the measures being taken to combat poaching around the island, Ramaboa said: “Increasing poaching activities remain a growing concern, especially because we are a National Heritage and World Heritage Site, as well as a Marine Protected Area.”

“In the past three months alone, more than 50 poachers have been apprehended within the waters around Robben Island for contravening the Marine Living Resources Act No 18 of 1998, which deals with harvesting marine living resources without a permit and/or in possession of prohibited equipment in a restricted area.

“The overwhelming success relating to our anti-poaching activities can be attributed to the partnership the museum has with the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry, South African National Parks (SANParks) and the SAPS,” Ramaboa pointed out.

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Cape Argus

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