“South Africa is losing billions of rands to illegal fishing, taking the highest place on the list is the poaching of abalone and lobster taking out R4 billion out of the country” writes Trust Matsilele of CBN Africa.
Statistics show that abalone and lobster are the most species falling victim to illegal and over fishing due to its demand in Hong Kong, China and Asian communities.
Poaching is prevalent around the world, despite efforts to curb it.
“There are three motivations for poaching; food, cultural and economic. When food is scarce, traditional hunters have been known to poach protected species in order to eat” writes Record an online news platform.
Many small-scale fishers have been (in the past) left out of receiving fishing quotas, and this left them with no legal way of accessing the marine resources they depend on for survival. Even with the current Interim Relief system, many bona fide fishers have seen themselves losing out on obtaining fishing permits.
But does this make poaching okay? Is it worth losing or depleting marine resources, breadwinners going to prison, and the money that is meant to build the economy to the black market?
With poachers having their “valid” reasons as to why they embark on this activity it is no rocket science that this has a terrible effect on the environment and fishing communities.
“Perlemoen poaching is unquestionably bad: it has pushed stocks to the verge of extinction and contributed to the rise of a range of social ills – gangsterism, turf wars, drug addiction and other undesirable by-products of the black market – in coastal towns throughout the Western and Eastern Cape” (De Kreef, 2014).
Poachers face many risks including being arrested and being fatally wounded at sea. This can result in families losing their bread winners and in some cases acquiring a loan, thus getting into debt, to try and get this person out of prison;
The loss of endangered species that poaching contributes to has a significant impact on the ecosystems in which poached animals live. In the event of complete species extinction, these effects pose the threat of being highly detrimental and irreversible (News record, 2012).
Poaching does not only have terrible effects on animals, but it poses risks to the food security and livelihoods of many fisher communities.
Masifundise and Coastal Links are against poaching. The small-scale fisheries policy must be implemented as it provides a framework for fishing that supports livelihoods and protects the environment.