Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Scuba Diving, Snorkeling Banned off Cape Coast

It's sad, the measures which government officials are forced to take to protect precious marine resources from scuba thieves.

Authorities in South Africa aim to protect marine resources with a new ban on scuba diving and snorkeling along the Cape coast.

Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk told CDNN the ban will take effect on February 1, 2008.

All diving equipment, including scuba and snorkeling gear, will be forbidden within designated areas.

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs, the areas in which diving will be prohibited include: within the Bird Island marine protected area; Quoin Point to Danger Point, from the west bank of the Ratel River to the eastern boundary of Gansbaai harbour's main breakwater wall; from Venus Pool to Olifantsbos on the Cape Peninsula, extending two nautical miles (3.7km) seaward from the high watermark; and around Robben Island, extending one nautical mile from the high- water mark.

The ban on scuba diving and snorkeling will coincide with suspension of all commercial abalone fishing.

While all commercial and recreational divers will be affected, the primary goal of the ban is to thwart organized crime gangs that profit from abalone poaching in South Africa.

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