SA Good News reports that specialised courts to deal specifically with environmental crimes will come into effect early next year. What wonderful news!
Our Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Buyelwa Sonjica, explained that she wants a renewed focus on environmental crimes. “We have problems with mines who just dump their waste anywhere and get away with it. We also have the abalone problem in our country. But the people involved often get away,” she explained.
The largest abalone in South Africa, the Perlemoen, occurs along approximately two-thirds of our country’s coastline. Perlemoen-diving has been a recreational activity for many years, but colonies are hugely threatened by illegal commercial harvesting. For the last few years, however, no permits have been issued for collecting Perlemoen. And in 2007 our government listed Perlemoen as an endangered species. But commercial harvesting still continues, as does illegal poaching and smuggling.
Let’s hope the new environmental courts will have an impact on the abalone problem and be stricter on poaching in general, as well as shed light on other key environmental crimes we struggle to control.
We only have one planet, and it’s about time we start implementing major changes in order to be able to protect her beautiful flora and fauna!