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Confiscated abalone stolen from Fisheries Department storage facility

A group of armed men broke into a facility last week and made off with an undisclosed number of bags.

FILE: Poaching of abalone, also known as perlemoen, is rife in the Western Cape, as it fetches steep prices on the black market. Picture: Wikimedia Commons.

CAPE TOWN - It's emerged confiscated abalone has been stolen from a secure storage facility, run by the Fisheries Department, in Cape Town.

The department's confirmed a group of armed men broke into the facility last week and made off with an undisclosed number of bags.

The poaching of abalone, also known as perlemoen, is rife in the Western Cape, as it fetches steep prices on the black market.

The department says a group of armed men stole abalone that had previously been confiscated.

Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana has responded to the news by saying efforts to fight illegal fishing "won't be derailed by thugs".

The department says although the law allows for the sale of confiscated marine products, the money is reinvested in the battle against poaching.

However, it acknowledges this process may be open to abuse and could encourage corruption and collusion.

Going forward, the minister plans to review the process, by the department, of storing and selling confiscated abalone.