The Green Scorpions held an undercover operation recently during which individuals and companies were fined and arrested for transgressing environmental laws on the Garden Route coast.
Various law enforcement bodies worked together with local police in the clamp-down on illegal fishing and bait collecting along the Eden coast and estuaries, George Herald reported.
The operation involved over 200 individuals representing various organisations. “The teams encountered transgressions, and fines were issued and individuals arrested,” said Eden District Municipality.
“Illegal activities included non-compliance of fish factories; fishing without permits; pollution of rivers and estuaries; illegal developments; boat-based whale watching operators who carried no permits; illegal collection/buying and selling of bait; and illegal oyster harvesting.
Under the capable organisation of Captain Truter, briefing and de-briefing sessions were held. Police officers were allocated to various Green Scorpions teams in order to accompany them on the compliance enforcement exercise. The area covered extended from the Great Brak River Estuary in the east, to the Breede River in the west.
Green Scorpion for Eden District Municipality Vernon Gibbs-Halls said, “This cooperative and collaborative effort towards this exercise was a true reflection of environmental law in practice, and enjoyed huge successes in environmental enforcement. South Africa has the best environmental legislation in the world, and seeing this being enforced is always positive to ensuring the protection of our natural resources.”
The National Department of Environmental Affairs, the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, the National Department of Forestry and Fisheries, SANParks, Eden District Municipality, CapeNature and the South African Police Department took part in the exercise, which took place in accordance with the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) Section 31B and C.
To be eligible for working for the Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI) (Green Scorpion) and the coveted designation, an official (only officials may be designated) must complete a relevant training course approved by the Director-General in terms of Section 31F of NEMA.
An EMI must, whenever exercising any powers or performing any duties under NEMA or a Specific Environmental Management Act (SEMA), on demand by a member of the public, provide his/her EMI ID card as well as his/her letter of designation.
– Caxton News Service