The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has welcomed anti-poaching interventions, which have led to a decline in illegal fishing activities since October this year.
The arrests and detention of several suspected fishers recently included a number of foreign vessels that were found fishing in prohibited fishing zones.
The committee said the seizure of almost 10 foreign fishing vessels and more than 160 tons of fish necessitated an immediate call for more investment and resources in anti-poaching interventions in an effort to protect the seashores and preserve marine-living resources in South Africa.
The committee also noted that the fish was mainly tuna from suspected vessels that had illegally changed their names.
Committee chairperson Lulu Johnson called for tougher penalties against all those arrested and involved in the recent incidents. She described the involvement of foreign fishers in illegal activities as tantamount to acts of terrorism and mercenary against South Africa.
“As the committee, we equate all these illegal fishing activities by a strong coalition of both local and foreign fishers to an act of terrorism, and have no reservations in the anti-poaching interventions by the department in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies,” said Johnson.
Johnson said he believed that the rapid processing and implementation of the Marine Living Resources Amendment Legislation, which is currently before the National Council of Provinces, will further contribute to the decline of poaching and other illegal fishing activities in the country’s waters.
The committee added that the discovery and shutting down of an illegal abalone processing establishment in Gauteng in October led to the confiscation of more than 7 000 units (476kg) of dried abalone, with an estimated value of R1.7 million.
It also appeals to all coastal communities and security agencies to join hands with the government’s anti-poaching drive during the festive season to root out “these unsavoury activities and secure our shores from unscrupulous acts of illegal foreign mercenaries”.