Multiple arrests have been made by the City of Cape Town’s Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit in relation to the illegal extractions of marine resources since the start of this year.
The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, explains the importance of having this unit in place.
“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,” he says.
On the morning of Thursday, January 10, the unit successfully arrested six suspects of marine poaching after receiving a tip-off and caught the assailants on the rocks in a secluded area of Kalk Bay. The poachers will be charged under the Marine and Living Resources Act.
The suspects had removed 238 limpets, 42 periwinkles and 590 black mussels. Upon arrest, all of the individuals were transported to the police station in Muizenberg.
In another case, a 34-year-old man was arrested for poaching 925 periwinkles in the Kalk Bay Area on January 7, while on January 6, officers working with the Melkbos Poaching Unit recovered 259 shucked abalone, but the poacher had already fled the scene.
Established in 2013, the unit focuses on marine and coastal law enforcement and conducts inshore boat patrols along the City’s 300km coastline.
An implementation protocol was sighed in 2016 by the City and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), increasing cooperation for mechanisms against poaching.
The agreement resulted in City Law Enforcement officers being trained as fishery control officers in accordance with the Marine Living Resources Act 18 of 1998.
Smith comments on the efforts of the unit to ensure the biodiversity of our oceans is protected, and that even though “there are people who make a living from the sea, the wanton pillaging cannot be allowed to go unchecked.”
“Our officers do not just catch those who poach, but also ensure the sustainability of resources and the survival of marine life,” he says.
Picture: City of Cape Town