By Siaka Momoh with Agency Reporter
South African fisheries sector is conservatively losing over four billion rand annually due to poaching, environmental activists have said, according to CNBC Africa report.
Serge Raemaekers, a University of Cape Town academic and researcher said the startling figures required an all-encompassing action from civil society, communities and government to address the challenge of poaching in the country’s marine economy.
Most poachers have expressed interest in abalone and lobster partly due to their demand in Hong Kong, China and other Asian economies.
Abalone is used for food while its shells are used as decorative items and as a source of pearls for jewellery while lobsters are considered economically important and one of the most profitable commodities in the coastal areas they populate.
According to the activists working in the World Wide Fund (WWF), the Nedbank Green Trust initiatives, both fishes (abalone and lobster) were falling victim to illegal and unregulated forms of fishing which has seen the two species depleting immensely.
Raemaekers said about 3,000 tonnes of the poached fish were a conservative estimate of how much was being smuggled illegally calling for a more robust policing intervention.
“There is need for preservation and conservation, we are trying to attack the problem from all fronts but there is need for concerted efforts and multi-sector management of the ocean economy,” he said.
Mike Tenet from Kogelberg Marine Working Group (KMWG) said a cursory look at the trends from 2000 showed a sharp decline and when the sea watch interventions were not there a rise in poaching was experienced.
“We have been trying to address marine crime for over 30 years and we have registered some success,” said Tenet.
He added that the KMWG had about 300 people who were helping in the programme of fighting marine crime.
John Duncan, a senior manager for Marine at WWF South Africa said about 0.4 per cent of the country’s ocean area was protected urging stakeholders to double efforts to about 10 per cent in the near future.
He also warned of the threat in ocean fisheries by oil and gas mining.
“We need to have an equitable and sustainable plan as a country,” he said.
Duncan said there was a need to make decisions on climate change and inform policies on facts.
The WWF Nedbank Green Trust has been working to combat poaching and promoting small scale fishers with access to markets at the best available offers.
Maseda Ratshikuni, head of Cause Marketing at Nedbank said a critical part of management involved rigorous engagement and participation from local communities and businesses.
“In this regard, WWF-Nedbank Green Trust’s Kogelberg marine project, along the Southern Cape is succeeding by combining communities with conservation,” he said.
“Over the past years, the project has made great progress in the enhancement of sustainable fishing in South Africa with the funding of small-scale fisheries.”
Global seafood demand on the surge, says report
Global seafood consumption per capita has increased significantly; this is according to the WWF 2014 report, CNBC Africa has reported.
The report says the rise in fish consumption has also resulted in exponential growth in demand for sea food worldwide
However the environmental sustainability advocacy group said meeting the demand had not been done in an environmentally sustainable way.
“29 per cent of the World’s fish stocks are over-exploited with 61 per cent being over-exploited with 10 per cent remaining under-utilised,” read part of the report.
“By 2030 global fish consumption will rise from 112 in 2008 to 152 million tonnes which will be increase in demand by 26 per cent.”
South Africa’s fisheries contribute about 0.5 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product especially the hake trawl fishery certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, fish was also a critical element in human protein requirements.
“People across the World rely on fish for 17 per cent of their protein with South Africa’s marine ecosystem supports thousands of jobs from fishermen to tourism,” said the report.
There are 22 commercial fisheries in South Africa targeting over 200 species whose stock range from underexploited to collapse.
The WWF Nedbank Green Trust project has also been assisting small-scale farmers in the fisheries sector as part of helping curb illegal farming of the specie.
The project has been assisting small-scale fish farmers in Kogelberg coast an area known for rich fish and seafood and also breeding ground for the country’s endangered line fish, abalone and west coast lobster.
“We are trying to encourage the local community to take responsibility for sustainably managing fish stocks within the Kogelberg area by creating positive incentives for local small-scale fisheries that are working towards the project’s long term goals,” said Augustine Morkel, manager at the WWF-Nedbank Green Trust.
“Our work of encouraging communities to take responsibility for managing marine resources effectively and to speak up against ill practices such as overfishing and poaching has been beneficial in ensuring accountability on both ends,” he added.
SMEs should tidy up IT mess using cloud
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) should move their data into a cloud backup provider in order to curtail losses.
According to online backup provider, IronTree, one in five South African SMEs experience some form of data loss once a year, usually as a result of accidents, natural disasters, theft or computing devices.
Steve Cohen, managing director of Sage Pastel, said that SMEs would not only be able to neaten up their IT environments, but could also limit data losses and system outages by moving their applications into a cloud system.
“Many SMEs are uncomfortable about the idea of moving their data into the cloud because it means thinking about applications and information in a new way but using the cloud for accounting and other applications means keeping their information stored in a secure data centre where the professionals look after it,” he said.
He explained that SMEs solely managing their data on computers and a hard drive is the most risky way to manage information as it’s vulnerable to fires, theft or loss. It’s also the easiest way for someone to illegally back up your data on a flash drive.
Also, with the increased use of devices such as smartphones and tablets, the risks of data theft has risen as each device is able to locally store data and becomes another vulnerable point for the business.
“An automated system that allows you to back your data up every day to a secure, remote location is the best way to safeguard your data and the easiest and most affordable way to get that is to use cloud-based solutions. It’s an easy way to tidy up the IT mess.