Poaching and illegal fishing are serious crimes, but there are parts of the world where people turn to it for reasons that are not necessarily malicious. It doesn’t make what they’re doing okay, but it means there’s a lot at play. For instance, in Hangberg, South Africa, poaching and illegal fishing is one of the best ways for someone to provide income for their family. For many young people there, it seems like the only recourse.

Hout Bay (where Hangberg is located) community activist Roscoe Jacobs told IOL: “Youth getting involved with poaching has become a massive problem around the area. They are putting themselves at risk when out at sea, and they are doing this because there are no other alternative activities in their community.”

Poachers are getting young men to poach for them because after one evening of poaching, they could make up to R1000. By having young boys do the dirty work for them, they avoid prosecution.

Another activist, Lee Smith says: “Local fishermen not being able to work for a legal income in the fishing industry has forced them to get involved with poaching. Most of the youth are leaving school to poach instead.” Although the coastline is patrolled regularly, it is extremely long which makes it easier for people to get away with the illegal activity.

These young boys are being taught to not only catch and kill animals, but to break the law. This is all around wrong for all involved. If there were other activities available to people in this community, as the local activists say, young kids would not be reeled into cruel and criminal activity.

It’s important to remember that the people in the community are just trying to make their livelihood in the ways they know how. There are complicated and unfair policies behind the entire situation and the South African government should be held responsible. If they help the citizens of Hangberg, then so many would not resort to poaching as they do.

Visit the South African Government website to learn about the different ways you can contact them.

Another reason for the high amounts of fishing along South Africa’s coastline is the many Chinese trawlers that fish there and deplete the oceans of wildlife. Sign this petition asking the government to crack down on illegal Chinese fishing vessels in South African waters.

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