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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Say Goodbye to Abalone

South Africa's abalone is about to go extinct. Why? Ecological changes and overfishing. The overfishing being mostly illegal as the catch enters the black market in exchange for drugs; the abalone being, eventually, sent to the Far East:

SA's abalone stocks are almost depleted and the species will most likely be extinct soon. For this reason one can understand Environment and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk's intentions in imposing the ban.

But the government has already banned abalone fishing and it hasn't worked. Artisanal fishing -- the only legal abalone fishing until Van Schalkwyk's ban -- is practised by a handful of coastal people who take less than 10% of the catch. The rest is illegal plunder.

The immediate effect of the previous ban on commercial abalone fishing was a drastic rise in the price. The abalone trade is run by large, well-organised crime syndicates, for whom the ban is a boon and the minister their best friend.

The previous ban also accelerated the depletion of the stocks as dishonest people found that policing the catch was woefully inadequate. That much is not about to change, which means that even more people will successfully exploit the government-created price bonanza.




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