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The swift reaction of Cape Town’s Specialized Maritime and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit led to the arrest of four marine poachers on Saturday, August 28, 2021.
The unit responded to a complaint from a small vessel deploying fishing nets in the Olifantsbos Marine Protected Area, just off the Cape Peninsula.
Members of the Specialized Maritime and Environmental Law Enforcement Unit were deployed alongside a Cape Town law enforcement officer to investigate. The suspects were located and arrested after trying to flee the scene.
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Charges of fishing in a restricted area and possessing west coast lobster without a license have been laid against the suspects.
Officers confiscated 56 west coast lobsters, of which 26 were “berries” (female egg carriers) and 16 were undersized.
According to regulations established by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, only crayfish with a minimum body width of 80 mm may be removed from the sea with the harvest of female egg carriers strictly prohibited. Six ring nets and a rubber duck were also confiscated from the suspects.
The World Wildlife Fund’s Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative classifies west coast lobster as a “not to buy” red status species due to their drastically declining numbers.
The following regulations summarized by the Two Oceans Aquarium must be observed:
Open season: Make sure you know when the west coast lobster season opens and only fish for them during this time.
Permits: Obtain a permit for west coast lobster from your local post office or marine environment authority.
Bag limit: Only four west coast lobsters are allowed per person per day. You cannot sell your catch and you have to transport the lobsters in their condition.
Size limit: Only crayfish with a minimum size of 80 mm may be removed from the sea.
Respect the female egg carriers: You cannot remove female lobsters that are in the berries. Immediately return them to the sea.
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