Inshore and ashore operations against abalone poaching in the Overberg region of the Western Cape this month yielded good results in line with one aim of the national blue economy initiative Operation Phakisa.
The deployment of multi-disciplinary teams, including Blue Scorpions from the Department of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and police, saw “a noticeable reduction in illegal harvesting activities and importantly ensured natural resources remain in the ocean” a statement said.
“The most important part of the operation is poachers are kept out of the water. There have been confirmed poaching incidents during the deployment, but the presence of teams has proven to be a deterrent. This highlights the impact of visible enforcement.
“Similar successes were noted in December 2018 and January this year when abalone worth R1.62 million was confiscated from poachers along with vehicles and boats worth hundreds of thousands of rand.
“In the last three months of 2018, abalone worth more than R2 million was confiscated in the Western Cape.
“While the current deployment has not stopped abalone poaching entirely, it has proven the ability of teams to react to reported incidents in the region and contributed to overall successes and visible presence of law enforcement entities,” the statement said.
Full details of the operation, including the value of abalone recovered, will only be known once the operation is concluded.
“Local poachers are recruited and managed by organised crime syndicates and become involved in looting marine species. Enforcement operations in the area concentrate on poaching of abalone and West Coast Rock Lobster and have also had considerable success related to the Road Traffic Act and other infringements in terms of the Marine Living Resource Act and criminal activity in general,” according to the statement.