Authorities want to know how abalone poaching is destroying fishing communities

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Authorities want to know how abalone poaching is destroying fishing communities

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\n Aron Hyman | 2017-01-24 12:31:10.0\n \n \n \n \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n \n\n \n\n\n \n \n

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\n \n \n Poached abalone from South Africa has reached about 2500 tons annually – according to Hong Kong import statistics. Photo file.\n \n \n \n \n
Image by: Terry Shean\n \n \n \n

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\n Abalone is one of the most expensive seafood delicacies in the world. But the poaching of this mollusc in South Africa has unleashed an array of problems in small fishing communities.\n

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The Western Cape provincial parliament will now conduct a series of public hearings to better understand the extent of the socio-economic challenges experienced in areas such as Gansbaai.

The committee’s chairperson‚ Beverley Schäfer‚ had previously said that stringent fishing quotas and regulations forced traditional fishermen into poaching to survive. She went as far as saying that entire communities have been “criminalised” because of this.

“I believe that what’s going to come out is the correlation between a lack of fishing quotas – being issued to our vulnerable communities who have for centuries been fishing – and an increase in abalone poaching‚” said Schäfer.

Last year‚ a study conducted by land-based abalone farming company Abagold indicated that drug use among school children in Kleinmond‚ one of South Africa’s poaching hotspots‚ rose by 70% between 2015 to 2016.

“Currently poached abalone from South Africa has reached about 2500 tons annually – according to Hong Kong import statistics‚” the report read.

It is alleged that international syndicates trade cheap methamphetamine and other drugs for poached abalone with the help of local gangs.

Through the public hearings‚ authorities hope to find ways to address the impact that abalone poaching has had on these communities.

The Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries has also come under fire after it emerged that they auction confiscated abalone for millions of rand.

They have since suspended this practice after it emerged that SARS was left in the dark about the proceeds of these auctions.

– TMG Digital/The Times

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