Cape Town - Members of the City of Cape Town’s Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit have arrested five alleged poachers and confiscated West Coast rock lobster valued at R6 000.
The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, said two members of the marine law enforcement unit had been conducting sea patrols along with Table Mountain National Parks staff, between Cape Point and Witsand, on Monday when they noticed suspicious activity.
“The officers spotted a boat near Olifantsbos in the Cape Point section of Table Mountain National Park and, on closer inspection, found that the occupants were fishing illegally for West Coast rock lobster,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “Officers confiscated 138 lobsters, with an estimated street value of R6 000. They arrested the five occupants on the boat on charges of fishing in a restricted zone. The men, all residents of Ocean View, were processed at the Simon’s Town police station. Three of them have previous convictions for poaching. Their vessel was also impounded and booked in at the Stikland, Bellville South, police impound lot.
“The rock lobster season closed three weeks ago but, as this incident proves, there are those who insist on ignoring the law and plundering our marine living resources for personal gain. Our officers and other agencies involved in policing our coastal waters work very hard to try and maintain law and order, but their jobs are made all the more difficult by people like these. It concerns me that three of the suspects have previous convictions for the same offence as it simply means that the punishment meted out previously was not a sufficient deterrent,” said Smith.
Over Easter, the City’s Marine and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit teamed up with other enforcement agencies including the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the South African Police Service, and Table Mountain National Parks for an integrated operation to promote compliance with the Marine Living Resources Act and the small vessel regulations and to signal the close of the recreational rock lobster fishing season.
The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Johan van der Merwe, said: “We checked nearly 150 vessels for seaworthiness as well as the certification of all skippers. Nearly all of the vessels were compliant - a sign that the majority of our recreational fishers respect the laws and understand the importance of responsible fishing to ensure sustainability of the very resources that provide their livelihood. It is a pity that the actions of a minority continue to taint the industry. I appeal to law-abiding fishermen to help us root out those with ill intent by blowing the whistle on their nefarious activities.”