Monday 13 August 2018

Rioting in Hout Bay, Cape Town, after 'poacher' allegedly shot by fisheries compliance officers.

Rioting broke out in the Hout Bay area of Cape Town, South Africa, on Sunday 12 August 2018, following the apparent death of a diver during a confrontation with officials of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry, on Saturday 11 August. Deurick van Blerk‚ 25‚ from Hangberg, was one of three divers on a boat which was fired upon by an anti-poaching patrol. The other two men were taken into custody on suspicion of hunting for South African Abelone, Haliotis midae, and West Coast Rock Lobster, Jasus lalandii, but van Blerk fell from the boat and has not been seen since, and is presumed to have been shot by the patrol.

Burning vehicles set on fire by protesters following the death of a diver in a confrontation with an anti-poaching patrol. City of Cape Town.
Both South African Abalone and West Coast Lobster are valuable commercial species in the Western Cape, with a system of quotas operated by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry to prevent over-fishing. Concerns about excess harvesting have led to no permits to collect Abalone being issued for several years, while the Lobsters have a closed season between June and November. Despite this, there is still a highly lucrative harvesting industry, with police seizing Abalone worth an estimated 3.5 million rand from a single illegal drying plant on Sunday 12 August, and several similar events occurring in June and July.

Abalone seized during a raid on an illegal drying plant in Cape Town on Sunday 12 August 2018. South African Police Service.

However, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry has been accused of unfairly targetting members of the Khoisan community, who claim to be forced to act illegally as they are excluded from the formal licencing system, and that by doing so they are excercising a right to harvest traditional food sources.

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