Scuba diving banned in Cape coast abalone areas

The South African Times reports:

Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has imposed a ban on scuba diving and snorkelling in areas along the Cape coast in an attempt to save the quickly diminishing stocks of perlemoen (abalone).

The prohibition will take effect from February 1, environmental affairs spokesman Mava Scott said yesterday. It comes in the wake of the suspension of commercial perlemoen fishing, which is to come into effect on the same date.

This new law is believed to be aimed at stopping abalone poaching syndicates, who are known to use divers to illegally harvest perlemoen from the sea floor. The legislation bans the use of certain types of equipment — including underwater breathing gear, masks, flippers and snorkels — within the prohibited areas.