Empty shells: an assessment of abalone poaching and trade in southern Africa

Over the past 18 years, poachers have stripped South African coastal waters of at least 96 million abalone. Efforts to curb the illegal trade have roundly failed. Once abundant, the population of South African abalone Haliotis midae is declining at unprecedented levels. On average two thousand tonnes of abalone are bagged annually by poachers – 20 times the legal take – in an illicit industry estimated to be worth at least US$60-million a year.