Keywords: wild abalone, bribery, coastal communities, corruption, poaching, recreational drugs, sustainable economy, South Africa, abalone conservation, drug use, targeted enforcement, organised crime, community patriotism, social fabric
Abalone conservation in the presence of drug use and corruption: implications for its management in South Africa
The illegal exploitation of wild abalone in South Africa has been escalating since 1994, despite increased enforcement, leading to collapse in some sections of its range. South Africa banned all wild abalone fishing in 2008 but controversially reopened the fishery in 2010. This paper formulates a poacher's model, taking into account the realities of the abalone terrain in South Africa - the high–value of abalone, use of recreational drugs, the prevalence of bribery, and corruption - to explore why poaching has not subsided. The paper suggests two additional measures that might help ameliorate the situation: eliminating the demand side through targeted enforcement on organised crime, and ceding the resource to the local coastal communities. However, local communities need to be empowered to deal with organised crime groups. Complementary measures to bring back community patriotism will also be needed given the tattered social fabric of the local coastal communities.