The Minister of Fisheries launched 3 anti-paoching vessels on 14 November 2011 in Hermanus. The function also noted the completion of a fisheries compliance training course for a number of military veterans who are to be deployed to combat abalone poaching between Rooi-Els and Arniston.
The launch of these anti-poaching "chase" vessels and the deployment of a team of committed "military veterans" as fishery control officers has to be welcomed as a step in the right direction in battle against rampant abalone poaching in the Overberg region.
A number of right holders did however express their concerns that the "chase" vessels were not equipped for night operations and that the average poaching RIB is easily capable of speeds of in excess of 60 knots - the chase vessels have a maximum speed of 48 knots. This is however a huge improvement over the use of the inshore and offshore patrol vessels which were never intended for use in the abalone fishery.
The Minister also noted that the much maligned "military veterans" needed the cooperation of members of the local community to apprehend poachers. However, many abalone right holders will scoff at this request as right holders have too often risked their own lives to repeatedly warn the department of ongoing poaching activities (as this BLOG has noted as well) in areas such as Hout Bay, Llandadno, Buffeljags, Perly Beach, Hawston, Robben Island etc only to be ignored. Furthermore, the department does not have an effective reporting mechanism, particularly as fishery control officers do not work after 4pm and over weekends. And no right-minded quota holder would dare approach their local police station with information about poaching.