Local marine conservation inspectors with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) have appealed to the public to contact them immediately they see suspected abuse of marine resources, like abalone poaching.
This follows a complaint by a concerned member of the public, who did not want to be named for fear of retribution from abalone poachers and rock worm diggers.
He took photographs of the diggers in action and also of a small pile of abalone shells at Shelly Beach recently – evidence of poaching.
“More and more ‘fishermen’ are going into the rocks from Kelly’s to Shelly Beach and Flame Lilly to dig out worm-bait,” our source said.
“The problem with this is that these guys destroy quite large tracts of the rocks and coast, areas which due to the destructiveness, never fully recover. My pictures show some of the people involved. Several municipal road-workers are also seen during their tea-breaks, if the tide is low.”
As for abalone poaching, he said: “It has been years since we have had the perlemoen scourge in Kowie. Sadly over the past week [January 21] I have noticed very worrying signs of this activity returning.”
He said he had come across many piles of perlemoen shells, mostly were in the rocks. He sent a photo of a pile he came across in the Shelly Beach carpark.
“Last night [January 20], as the tide got lower, it was easy to see several torches in the rocks. Tonight and tomorrow night will again be perfect conditions,” he said.
“I am not sure if the SAPS or Daff will do much, hence my mail to you to highlight/investigate this so that the SAPS and Daff can possibly up their game a bit.”
In response this week, Daff senior inspector Nomfihlelo Ngeleza said Daff had gone to patrol the areas mentioned, but did not come across any illegal activity.
“We will keep an eye on that,” she said. “The challenge is we are only two inspectors covering the whole coastline from Fish River to Sundays River. Sometimes we will not be in Port Alfred, we’ll be in Sundays River or Cannon Rocks.
“When someone sees people taking abalone, they must please call us immediately. We also work with the police, and if we can’t make it we’ll call the police,” she said.
She said the public could call her on 078-935-6316, or Andile Maki on 073-387-0451, or Phindile Pupa on 082-519-4007.
Pupa said that concerned members of the public could also approach Daff to become honorary inspectors, and help them with their work. Anyone interested can visit their office at 34 Campbell Street.
He added that the pile of abalone shells at Shelly Beach looked older than two months.