On 4 January 2011, the United States Court of Appeals delivered a long awaited judgment ordering that Arnold Bengis, Jeffrey Noll and David Bengis of the now non-existent poaching company, Hout Bay Fishing Industries (Pty) Ltd (HBFI), pay restitution to South Africa following the most substantial illegal fishing spree in South African commercial fishing history. HBFI, under the direction of its managing director, Arnold Bengis, is responsible for plundering some of South Africa's most valuable fish stocks, including south coast rock lobster and west coast rock lobster.
The exact amount that the convict Bengis and his comrades will have to pay in restitution will be determined by a US District Court but it is estimated that the Department of Fisheries' Marine Living Resources Fund could net about R363 million (US$54 million). These funds would have to be applied to the recovery of lobster stocks and to compliance.
The onus will no doubt fall on the south coast rock lobster and commercial west coast rock lobster sectors to ensure that the DAFF does not squander any restitution funds on business class travel, entertainment and lekgotla and to blindly prop up illegal fishing by the interim relief lobster sector.