Home arrow Environment arrow Super-fast vessel leads fight against poaching

Super-fast vessel leads fight against poaching

Thursday, 19 October 2006
The Florence Mkhize is no ordinary marine patrol vessel. Capable of skimming the ocean waves at 60 knots (about 125 km/h) and fitted with scientifically designed seats that protect the 12 man crew during high speed chases, the specialised boat has been called to action in the waters of Algoa Bay in the Eastern Cape to protect the ocean’s bounty from poachers.

Named after the South African struggle heroine, she was able to disrupt several perlemoen poaching attempts and deter illegal fishing activities on her first run along the east coast . Her special value lies in her speed and maneuverability, and five skippers have undergone training so that they can handle her at full throttle.

In a media statement, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Fishery said that “having officials both on land and sea simultaneously have definitely played a role in deterring poaching activities.” The inspections carried out on various boats have sent warning bells to poachers. Special abalone bags were found and confiscated from three of the four boats inspected during the operations.

The high visibility of the Florence Mkhize is definitely proving successful in the war against those who are plundering the national resources in South African waters. When she was launched in Cape Town in June, Martinus van Schalkwyk Minister of Environmental Affairs, said, “the Florence Mkhize will take up the fight against poaching to ensure a better future for the people of South Africa and especially those who rely on fishing as a resource.”

During the three months she has been in operation, the Florence Mkhize has sighted and apprehended a number of super ducks, the boats favoured by poachers. One super duck was apprehended and fined R12 000 for contravening SAMSA regulations. Other super ducks have been seen to return to shore when they spot the Florence Mkhize, and some that are known to operate in the Port Elizabeth area have moved away completely.

Although the Florence Mkhize is interfering with the poachers’ activities, it is hard to press charges unless they are found in possession of perlemoen.

“The increasing levels of poaching have been aided by the use of high tech equipment and skilled divers on the part of those robbing us of our natural resources. We are determined to turn this around and the introduction of the Florence Mkhize speed chase vessel is yet another indication of our determination to succeed,” said van Schalkwyk.

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