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Oldest "art studio" found: Abalone shells used to mix paint found in South African cave, new study says.
South Africa - 11 Jan 2012

A coating of bright red powder on the insides of a pair of 100,000-year-old abalone shells is evidence of the oldest known art workshop, a new study says.

The powder was found inside two shells in Blombos Cave near Still Bay, South Africa (map). The substance is the dried remains of a primitive form of paint made by combining colorful clay called ochre, crushed seal bones, charcoal, quartzite chips, and a liquid, such as water.

"A round [stone] covered the opening of one of the shells, and underneath it was absolutely bright red," said study leader Christopher Henshilwood, an archaeologist at the University of Bergen in Norway and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. read more >>>

(Photograph courtesy Science/AAAS)
Minister of Fisheries launches new anti-poaching vessels in ZA
South Africa - 21 Nov 2011

The Minister of Fisheries launched 3 anti-poaching vessels on 14 November 2011 in Hermanus. The function also noted the completion of a fisheries compliance training course for a number of military veterans who are to be deployed to combat abalone poaching between Rooi-Els and Arniston.

The launch of these anti-poaching "chase" vessels and the deployment of a team of committed "military veterans" as fishery control officers has to be welcomed as a step in the right direction in battle against rampant abalone poaching in the Overberg region.

read more on the FEIKE blog >>>

590 tons of abalone confiscated by South African authorities in 2010-2011
South Africa - 09 Nov 2011

The Minister of Fisheries has admitted in parliament that a staggering 590 tons of abalone was confiscated by the department of fisheries during the 2010/2011 financial year. While this admission is jaw-dropping, what is even more alarming is her further confirmation that during the same financial period, the department is recorded to have earned R11,3 million from the sale of confiscated abalone.

590 tons of abalone is conservatively valued at R185 million (@R350/kg). This valuation is however based on what right holders can earn from the sale of abalone to South African marketers who then market the product internationally for substantially higher amounts. All confiscated abalone is sold directly to buyers in Hong Kong and China and so the department should be earning substantially higher amounts than what quota holders would ordinarily earn.

read more on the FEIKE blog >>>

Chinese nationals sentenced for involvement in abalone poaching in South Africa
South Africa - 22 Feb 2011

South Africa has become a target for syndicates wanting to plunder its wild abalone resources due to the collapse of most abalone fisheries in the world, according to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Additionally, poachers often worked in association with illegal drug dealers and other elements of organised crime, the department said yesterday.

Its comments follow the sentencing on Wednesday of three Chinese nationals for involvement in a syndicate poaching abalone in the Western Cape . read more >>>

(Photo by Jeff Barbee, Special to the Chronicle - All rights reserved.)
Ships recalled to effect abalone confiscations and commercial fishery open again.
South Africa - 15 Sep 2010

Investigators of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) confiscated 1.6 tons (28 764 individual animals) of abalone (perlemoen) with an estimated value of R4 million this weekend, that was in the process of being smuggled out of South Africa on a commercial container vessel.

For only the second time in the history of law enforcement in the country a shipping vessel suspected of carrying illicit goods was forced to return to South Africa for inspection after SARS issued a Detention Order in terms of the Customs and Excise Act. read more >>>

And in other news:

As of 1 July 2010 the commercial harvesting of abalone has been opened to allow fishing communities to derive a livelihood from the sea. The opening came with multifaceted conditions to ensure that social, economic and security plans and structures are in place to support communities, especially along the entire south-western and west coast of South Africa. read more >>>

Luderitz abalone farming receives financial boost.
Namibia - 15 June 2010

THE Development Bank of Namibia recently extended a N$12 million loan to Lüderitz Abalone Farming to expand infrastructure at the farm. This includes building a new cannery, buying equipment for clam harvesting as well as a new boat and vehicles, erecting 150 additional tanks for abalone grow-out, and for working capital. The funding is set to boost Namibia’s foreign export earnings while generating job opportunities in the south. Lüderitz Abalone Farming was established by Johannes and Renate Erasmus in 2002 and was the first land-based abalone farm in the country. read more >>>

Removal of trade controls signals bleak future for abalone.
South Afrcia - 06 June 2010

TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, today expressed disappointment at the decision by the South African government to remove its endemic abalone species Haliotis midae from Appendix III of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Under the Appendix III listing, which came into effect on 3 May 2007, all consignments of H. midae in international trade were required to be accompanied by CITES permits from South Africa. read more >>>

Increasing state effort to combat abalone poaching in South Africa.
South Africa - 02 August 2009

The media is reflecting an increasing state effort to combat abalone poaching with reports of well coordinated busts, long jail terms, and high level investigations leading to asset forfeiture, and racketeering charges. Related issues in the news include corruption of conservation officials; the linkage between poached abalone and the drug trade; arrest of poachers underwater; and the controversially large income the state makes from confiscated abalone. For the full stories see the links below:

> Fleeing Poachers brave shark infested waters.
> Important to catch poachers with abalone in sea.
> Poacher gets 32 years.
> End of "sometimes arduous trial".
> High speed chase ends in arrests at sea.
> Sanparks staff caught with poached fauna.