Illegal Poaching Decimates South African Sea Snails

Over the past 17 years, nearly 96 million large sea snails valued at US$900 million have been illegally poached off the coast of South Africa and trafficked by organized crime groups, a new report released Wednesday reveals.

Hout Bay harbour near Cape Town, an area where abalone poaching is reportedly widespread (Photo: Flickr)South African abalone (haliotis midae) range in size from 4.5-8 inches (12-20 cm), and their flesh has long been considered a delicacy in China and Hong Kong, where demand is rising among wealthy elites. Today, 90 percent of both illegal and legal exports end up in Hong Kong. 

The recent surge in illegal abalone trading is the result of partnerships between organized crime syndicates primarily from China and smaller, localized crime groups in South Africa, says the…

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