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Abalone confiscated

Number of whole abalone recovered from poaching

Environmental Goal

To stop illegal abalone poaching

 

Indicator

abalone
Records of numbers of whole abalone confiscated, 1994–2006
Source:  Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism: Marine and Coastal Management - Abalone Section
 
Records of numbers of whole abalone confiscated, 1994–2004
 

Year

Number of Abalone confiscated

1994

30 000

1995

95 000

1996

80 000

1997

70 000

1998

150 000

1999

108 705

2000

335 478

2001

442 364

2002

956 894

2003

690 524

2004

792 985
Source:  Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism: Marine and Coastal Management - Abalone Section
 

Are we making progress?

Compounding the effects of poaching is the ecological change occurring at the centre of the most productive abalone region, between Cape Hangklip and Hermanus on the southwestern coast of the Western Cape, on account of the increase in rock lobster (Jasus lalandii) abundance in this region, initially detected in 1994.  Rock lobsters consume small invertebrates, including sea urchins (Parechinus angulosus), which provide essential shelter for juvenile abalone.  Decreasing abundance of sea urchins, due to increased predation by rock lobster, reduces recruitment to the abalone population.  Intense poaching, together with ecosystem changes resulting in reduced recruitment, has severely reduced abalone density in the main commercial fishing grounds.  Data collected from the 1980s until 1998 show densities of between 0.8 and 1.3 abalone/m2 but, mainly because of poaching, densities in the primary fishing areas are currently below 0.3 abalone/m2.  As broadcast spawners, abalone require a minimum density to ensure reproductive success.  It is not yet known if current densities have reached the point where nearest neighbour distances are so great that fertilization is unlikely to occur, but it is likely that recruitment success is already severely compromised.
 
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