The government is proposing a total ban on diving in certain areas as a way of combating the poaching of abalone stocks. The out of control poaching has been going on for many years with the government seemingly unable to police our natural resources in any meaningful way. Bureaucracy and bungling officials probably the main culprits for the lack of any decisive or coercive efforts to stem the tide of illegal poachers.

The classic was the armed defense force soldiers policing the National Spearfishing Championships weigh-in in Port Elizabeth while in the background a heavily laden abalone poacher slowly made his way up the beach and into the dunes.

The unfortunate upshot of any irrational proposals like this one is that other legal sea users might eventually say enough is enough and choose to go that route themselves.

Constitutionally there can be no validity in penalizing one group for another group’s unlawful action. Marine and Coastal Management together with the Department of Environmental Affairs need to come up with a solution to this problem that does not impinge on the rights of other sea users.