Il­le­gal poach­ing on the rise

District Mail - - PLAASLIKE NUUS NUUS NEWS - Rick Marais

Poach­ing in the Over­strand es­pe­cially in On­rus, Siev­ers Point, Klein­mond and Betty’s Bay has in­creased ex­po­nen­tially over the last two months.

On 26 July a res­i­dent of Betty’s Bay had an al­ter­ca­tion with the driver of a bakkie who had ap­par­ently dropped off poach­ers, in which gun­shots were fired at the driver.

The man was charged with at­tempted mur­der and ap­peared briefly in the Caledon Mag­is­trates’ Court. The charge was tem­po­rar­ily with­drawn pend­ing a re­port from bal­lis­tic ex­perts.

Of­fi­cials from the Fish­eries Man­age­ment Branch of the Mon­i­tor­ing, Con­trol and Sur­veil­lance (MCS) Unit of the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs, Forestry and Fish­eries (Deff) con­fis­cated 7 657 units of abalone orig­i­nat­ing from the Over­berg at ap­prox­i­mately 22:00 on Sun­day 2 Au­gust.

Fanie Krige, Ward 10 coun­cil­lor, says he is ex­tremely con­cerned about the in­creas­ing scale of marine re­source poach­ing in the Over­berg.

“Not only does this de­prive our lo­cal fish­er­men of eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity, but there is also a clear link with other crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties and the es­tab­lish­ment of il­le­gal hous­ing struc­tures,” he said. “Frus­tra­tion among res­i­dents is on the rise, but I must warn peo­ple against tak­ing mat­ters into their own hands. We are deal­ing with or­gan­ised crime, and peo­ple who are not trained and equipped can get hurt in con­fronta­tions.”

Zo­lile Nqayi, Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Ser­vices at Deff, says the de­part­ment con­ducts daily in­spec­tions to curb the rise of poach­ing, es­pe­cially in Klein­mond and Betty’s Bay. It also does coastal pa­trols, sea pa­trols, op­er­a­tions and in­ves­ti­ga­tions with its part­ners and role-play­ers such as the Law En­force­ment Task Team of Over­strand Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, Saps and CapeNa­ture.

Er­rol van Staden, Chair­per­son of Hermanus Pub­lic Pro­tec­tion (HPP), says poach­ing is totally out of hand in Hermanus, es­pe­cially On­rus. “These poach­ers are now poach­ing in broad day­light,” he says, “and no­body is do­ing any­thing about it. It is Deff’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to fol­low-up on these cases, but it seems noth­ing is hap­pen­ing. We are now at a point where we de­cided to es­ca­late the mat­ter to the Min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs.”

The poach­ers en­ter­ing the wa­ter along our coast are just the foot­men, and are part of a very large or­gan­ised syn­di­cate.

Jean Or­ban, Ward 13 coun­cil­lor, be­lieves there are other rea­sons at play in turn­ing nor­mal fish­er­man into poach­ers. He says: “I be­lieve this is a re­sult of our na­tional gov­ern­ment, which has taken so many quo­tas away from lo­cal peo­ple who need it and rely on that in­come, giv­ing it to a con­nected few.

“This has forced many good peo­ple into be­com­ing crim­i­nals just to put food on their ta­bles. This is not fair. The poach­ers en­ter­ing the wa­ter along our coast are just the foot­men, and are part of a very large or­gan­ised syn­di­cate.”

Why the spike in poach­ing?

Nqayi at­tributes the spike in poach­ing to the Level 3 lock­down. “The lock­down, as well as con­tin­u­ous bad weather dur­ing Lock­down Lev­els 5 and 4 pre­vented poach­ers from go­ing to sea,” he said. “Level 3 has less strin­gent reg­u­la­tions, thus caus­ing the num­ber of poach­ing in­ci­dents to rise.

“The ef­fects of lock­down in the Over­berg over the past few months may have re­sulted in a high de­mand for abalone and West Coast rock lob­ster in the Far East.”

Nqayi says, in ad­di­tion to Deff’s proac­tive ap­proach, the de­part­ment has been suc­cess­ful in im­ple­ment­ing the re­ac­tive mea­sures that are in­tended to deal with the transporte­rs, pro­ces­sors, and ex­porters of poached marine re­sources.

“These or­gan­ised il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties are fol­lowed-up in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Direc­torate of Pri­ori­tised Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tions (DPCI),” he said, “and are mainly aimed at the syn­di­cates op­er­at­ing in these sec­tors. The aim is to in­crease these op­er­a­tions in the Betty’s Bay and Klein­mond ar­eas in the short to medium term.”

Ryan Solomons, ’n geliefde am­bu­lans­man in Fran­schhoek, is Sa­ter­dag­nag in ’n tragiese bots­ing in Bel­har dood.

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