Abalone (commonly known as perlemoen) poaching in the Overstrand has reached critical proportions.

At any given time, scores of poachers can be seen in the waters along our coast. They are brazen in their actions and no longer make any attempt to hide their illegal activities from the public or even law enforcement officials.

Although there have been several breakthroughs in the past few weeks where either vessels were confiscated or poached abalone found, it seems as if in most instances law enforcement agencies are either unwilling or unable to act against poachers. The problem with confiscating abalone is that it has already been removed from the ocean, contributing to the depletion of the wild stock.

The scourge of poaching, however, is a problem much larger than simply stopping poachers from entering the water or recovering poached abalone. It has mushroomed into a multi-billion-rand industry that involves several countries. Added to this, it is delivering a steady income to many communities stuck in abject poverty, with no real hope of escaping it.

Poaching has to all intents and purposes become a socio-economic problem which can only be solved by a single-minded focus on changing the circumstances of communities that are dependent on the ocean for their survival. This will entail creating an environment in which people have viable options for making a living other than poaching.

While this may seem an impossible task, it is within our grasp should we as a community keep on raising awareness of this issue in order for politicians to take the first steps in solving the problem. By doing this, the lives of whole communities will change for the better and not only a select few.

Make your voice heard, it is your duty.

6 arrested for illegal abalone possessions. Read more here.

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