South Africa's Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, the Hawks, seized over R4 million worth of abalone on Monday and arrested 10 people.
Despite the critically low levels of abalone in South Africa's waters, it is still being poached illegally.
According to Marcus Burgener, Head of Marine programme for Traffic at WWF South Africa, about 95% of abalone is being taken out of the waters illegally.
It's a highly organised crime, it's a well run and well-resourced business and its been going on in the Western Cape for over 20 years.— Marcus Burgener, Head of Marine programme for Traffic at WWF South Africa
Since legal abalone catching has been taken from the communities that have depended on it for decades for survival, some of them are forced into poaching, says Beverley Schäfer, Standing Committee Chairperson on Econ Development, Tourism & Agriculture.
She says about 7 million abalone has been stolen from Soth African waters.
It seems the oceans have now become a gang syndicated space and the local fisherman have become very desperate, says Schäfer.
That's a huge amount of money that's been taken from our oceans, preventing communities that have managed to live sustainably on the sea.— Beverley Schäfer Standing Committee Chairperson on Econ Development, Tourism & Agriculture.
To hear more on this conversation, listen below: