Daily Dispatch

Abalone poaching feeds Far East

- By SIYA BOYA

ABALONE poaching continues to rise to feed a belief in the Far East it is an aphrodisia­c.

Chief director of marine resources management at the Department of Agricultur­e, Forestry and Fisheries, Saasa Pheeha, said: “It is usually kept for people who hold high positions because it is expensive.

“Also, some men there [Far East] believe it can improve their sexual performanc­e.”

Earlier this week, the Daily Dispatch reported abalone poaching was on the rise in East London and the Wild Coast.

This after four women were arrested for poaching abalone near the East London harbour.

“Most of the catch is sold in the Far East and it is sold in US dollars. It is very unfortunat­e because abalone poaching is linked to syndicates like the mafia, triads and drug smuggling.”

Eastern Cape police spokeswoma­n Brigadier Marinda Mills also said there had been a rise in abalone poaching in the province.

“Our operationa­l informatio­n indicates there is an increase in the poaching of abalone in our province, especially in the Port Elizabeth and Jeffrey’s Bay areas.

“Syndicate bosses usually recruit locals to dive for the abalone and then it is dried, before being transporte­d to Joburg for export.”

Mills said the SAPS was working closely with the department to not only arrest the divers and runners stripping the province of its marine resources, but the “big bosses” involved in the syndicate.

Pheeha said locals were aware abalone was an endangered species, but because easy money could be made from poaching, many left their day jobs to pursue poaching. However, he said it would continue for as long as people were unaware of the realities.

“The truth of the matter is that even though it is locals who are poaching, they do not realise if they carry on the way they are now, this resource would soon be unavailabl­e to them,” said Pheeha.

“We need an integrated approach where awareness is created and there is training. Also, that people are sensitised to the market because for as long as the market exists, there will always be poaching.

“Abalone can be fresh, canned or dried. The fresh abalone could cost the end user about $150 to $200 [R1 228 and R1 639] per kg and obviously the others would be different,” Pheeha said. — siyab@dispatch.

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