The South African Revenue Service (SARS) reported that it had successfully issued detention orders on two cargo ships that were headed to Hong Kong. One of the ships was found with cargo of 1.6 tons of abalone on board which is assumed to have been harvested illegally. The second ship's arrival in Cape Town is expected in the next week.
The action by SARS is to be highly commended as it indicates the use of intelligence and information networks which are essential to reducing the scourge of poaching. The costs that will be incurred by the poaching syndicate will be substantial if one considers the lost costs of freighting, processing and up-front payments to runners and poachers. However, the individual or entity that exported the product must be publicly named and prosecuted. Further, the damages suffered by the shipping companies concerned and its clients who would also have been shipping products to Hong Kong should also be claimed from the exporter of the illegal abalone.
Of side interest is the fact that SARS has valued the abalone at R2500/kg. It is noted that the SARS statement referred to the confiscation of some 28000 units of abalone, which means that the poached abalone must have been frozen and not processed into the more valuable dried form. This makes the valuation of R2500/kg extremely high.
However, if this is the official valuation now being used by the South African government, the loss of approximately 3500 tons of abalone to poaching in 2009 then equates to R8,7 billion.