CAPE TOWN, March 27 A massive haul of the
gourmet mollusc abalone that was illegally harvested in South
Africa has returned to the country after it was seized in Hong
Rampant poaching has decimated the abalone population in
South Africa's coastal waters to feed demand for the high-priced
delicacy in Asia, where the molluscs have also been over
harvested, forcing buyers to look elsewhere.
The 2.6 tonnes of abalone will be auctioned, with the
proceeds going to a fund aimed at protecting South Africa's
marine resources, said Lionel Adendorf, a spokesman for the
country's fisheries department.
"It is the first time that South Africa (has) worked with a
foreign country to have illegally poached, harvested and
processed abalone returned to South Africa," Adendorf said on
Tuesday, as the crates of dried abalone were offloaded from a
truck at a fisheries department warehouse in Cape Town.
Between 2007 and 2009, South African officials confiscated
107 tonnes of abalone, according to the latest available
government data. But this was believed to be only a fraction of
the abalone illicitly harvested.
Abalone cling to rocks in fairly shallow waters just off the
coast, making them a relatively easy target for divers who pry
them loose with knives.
(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Ed Stoddard and