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Sixteen arrested near Bird Island

by Selwyn Bergman
on 01 Feb 2008
Oceanography SA
Oceanography SA

Sixteen suspected abalone (perlemoen) poachers were arrested after an intense 24hour standoff with marine authorities. According to Carol Moses, Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) spokesperson, the ordeal started at approximately 6am on 30th January 2008 when SANParks officials observed two super-ducks inside the Bird Island MPA close to Port Elizabeth.

MCM alerted their high-speed vessel, Florence Mkhize. When the MCM vessel arrived on the scene, the super-ducks abandoned the sixteen divers in an attempt to escape the officials.

Initially thirteen of the divers were arrested and twelve were transported to Port Elizabeth. The thirteenth diver had to remain behind on Bird Island as the vessel could not carry the entire group at one time.

According to Moses, "three of the divers refused to get out of the water obviously hoping that their boat would come back for them." After spending a night on nearby Stag Island the suspects were arrested.

Diving gear and abalone shucking tools were seized during the bust.

The suspects are expected to appear in court today.

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