Protection for South African abalone

Haliotis midae

From WWF:

06 Feb 2007

Cape Town, South Africa – South Africa has taken a decisive step towards stemming the illegal harvest and trade of its endemic abalone populations by listing the species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The proposed Appendix III listing, which comes into effect on 3 May 2007, requires all future international trade consignments of South African abalone (Haliotis midae) — more commonly known as perlemoen — to be accompanied by CITES documentation.

Abalones in Australia: here.

More abalones: here.

The genus Haliotis means ‘sea ear’ and includes the inimitable Northern Abalaone.

Black Abalone At Risk Of Extinction, Endangered Species Act Protection Sought: here.

One critically endangered species of smooth-shelled abalone is making a comeback in certain parts of its range along the California coast. To better understand the extent of black abalone recovery, a collaborative scientific team is turning to archeological sites on the Channel Islands. Their findings suggest that while the recent ecological rebound is encouraging, there’s still work to do before the black abalone should be considered fully recovered: here.

Scientists from NOAA‘s National Marine Fisheries Service report a significant decline of endangered white abalone off the coast of Southern California in the journal Biological Conservation: here.

3 thoughts on “Protection for South African abalone

  1. South Africa: Government Places Ban On Abalone Fishing

    BuaNews (Tshwane)

    25 October 2007
    Posted to the web 25 October 2007

    Shaun Benton
    Cape Town

    Permission to fish for wild abalone, also known as perlemoen, has been suspended in South Africa from next month, says government spokesperson Themba Maseko, Thursday.

    The decision to suspend permission for abalone fishing from 1 November 2007 was taken by Cabinet during one of its regular meetings on Wednesday, Mr Maseko said.

    Abalone stock in South Africa is “in a crisis and threatened with commercial extinction”, he said.

    While resolving to suspend permission for abalone fishing, Cabinet at the same time approved a social plan to address the job losses that will result from this decision, Mr Maseko said.

    He added that the social plan approved by Cabinet to address the impact of the decision on those who depend on abalone fishing for their livelihood would consider alternative means of earning a living from the sea.

    “Some of the measures incorporated in the social plan will include the development of a sustainable aqua-culture industry and issuing of additional permits for whale watching and shark-cage diving.

    “Government will work with all key stakeholders to manage the transition, which I’m sure will be difficult for many involved in this industry,” Mr Maseko said.

    It is believed that there are about 800 jobs dependent on the legal fishing of abalone, which has also been subjected to sustained and widespread poaching over the years, given that the coveted and tasty shellfish fetches very high prices abroad, especially in the Far East.

    The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism stated on Thursday that there are currently 302 rights holders (262 individual divers and 40 legal entities in the form of close corporations) operating in the sector, accounting for about 800 jobs, including those of individual divers.

    A number of criminal syndicates, with international links, are believed to have been behind much of the widespread poaching, which has led to a decimation of stocks.

    Mr Maseko conceded that it was “not an easy matter” for government to suspend abalone fishing, but added that government has the responsibility to “strike a good balance” between the species going extinct and the needs of communities living along South Africa’s coastline.

    The department said the decision by Cabinet to suspend permission for abalone fishing would ensure the survival of the species.

    Welcoming Cabinet’s decision, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, said: “[Wednesday’s] tough decision by Cabinet to support the suspension of wild abalone commercial fishing will ensure the survival of the species and will also ensure that our children and the generations that follow will know what perlemoen is.

    “We are unfortunately at a point where the commercial harvesting of wild abalone can no longer be justified because the stock has declined to such an extent that the resource is threatened with commercial extinction.”

    Mr van Schalkwyk added: “The main causes of the decline in abalone stocks are poaching and the migration of West Coast Rock Lobster into the abalone areas. Rock Lobsters consume Sea Urchins that provide shelter to juvenile abalone.

    “This in turn subjects the juvenile abalone to increased mortality. Studies further show that unless decisive and immediate action is taken, the resource will collapse completely with little prospect of recovery.”

    The minister added that for the past few years, the department’s managers and researchers have been recommending closure of abalone fisheries.

    The decision to suspend permission to fish for abalone was taken in terms of Section 16 of the Marine Living Resources Act.

    The suspension of permission to fish for abalone as of 1 November was indefinite, Mr Maseko said earlier.

    Of course, the possibility exists that the suspension could be lifted after a period of a few years should abalone stocks replenish themselves.

    However, the minister cautioned that if there is not “a drastic decline” in poaching, he would consider a 10-year ban on perlemoen fishing.

    Mr Van Schalkwyk said: “I want to give notice that if there is not a drastic decline in poaching I will have to apply my mind at the start of the next season as to whether it is perhaps time to consider a complete ban on all perlemoen harvesting for a period of ten years to allow the resource to recover.”

    The minister added that in other countries, abalone fisheries are also threatened with commercial extinction.

    In North America, for example, abalone fisheries have now been closed for more that ten years, he said, adding that it has been suggested that such fisheries are slow to recover because closure was delayed.

    To ensure that the suspension of harvesting is observed, monitoring and control of abalone by the department is to be scaled up, and abalone population dynamics will be monitored through regular research surveys.


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