A bleak picture was sketched in parliament of poaching, its gang-related activities and the effects it has on the community. But the most important stakeholder in anti-poaching activities, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, was a no-show at the meeting yesterday.
Beverley Schäfer, chairperson of the Standing Committee on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture in the Western Cape, called the briefing after two shooting incidents last week involving poachers, in which one man was injured.
She slammed DAFF’s absence, saying it is an indication that it did not take the issue of poaching seriously enough.
Schäfer invited DAFF as well as SA Revenue Services (SARS) and police to another meeting on September 28 to clarify who should be at the forefront of tackling poaching.
“It is clear that the majority of the challenges and solutions lie under the ambit of DAFF,” says Schäfer.
Possible solutions to the poaching problem, including giving locals back their fishing rights and legalising sustainable abalone harvesting, were also presented.
Mark Collings of Community Against Abalone Poaching (CAAP) believes the meeting was a good starting point but there was a long way to go,” he says.
“The Hawks said R136 million has been raised from confiscated abalone in the last seven years.
“Schäfer indicated that they would investigate what happens to this money. We believe it should be used by DAFF for more manpower and resources to keep abalone in the water.”