Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hey Minister: Where is the 591 tons of Abalone?

Feike reported in 2011 that the Minister stated in Parliament that her department confiscated 591 tons of abalone during the 2010/2011 financial year.

As we reported then, this staggering admission destroyed all the department's attempts at whitewashing poaching and confiscation figures. Based on the Department's own repeated admissions that it confiscates between 10 and 15% of all abalone poached, this means that between 4000 tons and 5900 tons are actually poached. This is a simplistic and extremely conservative number as we do not factor in what percentage of the 591 tons of confiscated product is dried or frozen. Based on the Department's average sale price achieved during the secret November 2011 abalone auction, 4000 tons of abalone would be worth an astronomical R8billion.

In a High Court application involving abalone right holders (26160/2011), the Minister and the Acting DDG re-confirmed that the fisheries department confiscated 591 tons of abalone. 591 tons would be worth anything between R200 million and R1 billion depending on what proportion of the confiscated product is dried. Dried abalone auctioned by the department has earned it an average of between R2000 and R2,800/kg.

So here some elementary questions for the Minister and the Acting DDG of Fisheries:

1. Where is the 591 tons of confiscated abalone?
2. What proportion of this is dried?
3. What quantities of the confiscated product have been sold to date, at what prices and to whom?
4. This is a huge income windfall that ought to go directly to abalone management, research and compliance. How exactly will the income be ring-fenced and spent?

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