Africa must preserve marine resources
9 November 2007
State to streamline green laws
8 November 2007
Passion versus greed in perlemoen war
7 November 2007
Passion versus greed in perlemoen war - 7 November 2007
The war to halt perlemoen (abalone) poaching has pitched R180-a-kilogram divers on the one side against R4 000-a-month marine inspectors on the other, MPs heard on Wednesday.
A briefing to members of Parliament's environmental affairs portfolio committee by Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) marine unit operations manager Robin Adams revealed stark contrasts between the opposing forces.
"We pay our entry-level staff R4 000 a month. To do law enforcement, that's not a salary as far as I'm concerned. These people need to be rewarded for what they're doing. It's passion that drives them all," he said.
In contrast, the syndicate bosses and their henchmen were all wealthy."Abalone gets sold for anything from R160 to R180 a kilogram by the diver who harvests it, and up to $450 [about R2 700 a kilogram] for the top guy when it is exported... you're talking huge amounts of money."
The equipment the poachers used was expensive.
"An abalone diver goes into the water with R20 000 or R30 000 worth of equipment on his back, but that same individual [when caught] stands in front of the court and explains how poor he is, and how he doesn't have a job."
Adams said his 21-member unit was making, on average, 79 arrests a month, of which 80 to 90 percent were abalone related. Currently, about 40 percent of those arrested where convicted.
He called for a rethink on the way poaching cases were handled.
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