Al­leged poach­ers nabbed

The Mercury - - NEWS - MER­CURY COR­RE­SPON­DENT

CAPE Town’s Ma­rine and En­vi­ron­men­tal Law En­force­ment Unit racked up its first ar­rest­sand the re­cov­ery of poached ma­rine life for the new year.

Of­fi­cers were con­duct­ing water­borne op­er­a­tions when their land­based col­leagues acted on a tip-off and cor­nered six sus­pects on the rocks at a se­cluded part of the Kalk Bay shore­line on Fri­day.

The sus­pects had al­ready re­moved and bagged 238 limpets, 42 peri­win­kles and 590 black mus­sels.

The city said they would be charged un­der the Ma­rine and Liv­ing Re­sources Act and had been taken to Muizen­berg po­lice sta­tion.

The ar­rests came just days after of­fi­cers ar­rested a 34-year-old man from Ma­nen­berg who had al­legedly poached 925 peri­win­kles in the Kalk Bay area.

Al­leged poach­ers in the Melk­bos area left one of their run­ners alone with a stash of abalone at Slab­bers Klippe beach.

Aux­il­iary of­fi­cers from the unit, work­ing with the Melk­bos Anti-Poach­ing Unit, ap­proached the run­ner, who es­caped. The of­fi­cers re­cov­ered 259 shucked abalone.

“Ma­rine re­sources are un­der threat and our lo­cal econ­omy and the en­vi­ron­ment can­not af­ford this abuse.

“It is crit­i­cal for us to have ef­fec­tive ways of fight­ing the il­le­gal poach­ing of sea life and this unit has proven its met­tle since it was es­tab­lished,” said the may­oral com­mit­tee mem­ber for safety and se­cu­rity, JP Smith.

The unit was es­tab­lished in 2013 and its fo­cus has been ma­rine and coastal law en­force­ment, in­clud­ing in­shore boat pa­trols. Dur­ing the last three months of 2018, the unit made 19 ar­rests and im­pounded 4 934 liv­ing ma­rine re­sources (abalone, alikreukel, mus­sels, peri­win­kles, snails and limpets).

Smith said the city and the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries had signed an Im­ple­men­ta­tion Pro­to­col in 2016 that paved the way for closer co-op­er­a­tion in the fight against poach­ing.

He lauded the unit’s of­fi­cers for their ded­i­ca­tion and hard work.

“Ma­rine life around the world is un­der threat be­cause of poach­ing, over­fish­ing and lit­ter dumped into the oceans.

“While we re­alise there are peo­ple who make a liv­ing from the sea, the wan­ton pil­lag­ing can­not be al­lowed to go unchecked.

“If we let it, there will soon be noth­ing left for any­one and species will go ex­tinct.”

CAPE Town’s Ma­rine and En­vi­ron­men­tal Law En­force­ment Unit has racked up its first suc­cesses in the new year in its cam­paign against poach­ing.

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