This was created in partnership with Environment for Development .
The illegal exploitation of wild abalone in South Africa has been escalating since 1994, despite increased enforcement, leading to collapse in some sections of its range. South Africa banned all wild abalone fishing in 2008 but controversially reopened it in 2010. This paper formulates a poacher’s model, taking into account the realities of the abalone terrain in South Africa—the prevalence of bribery, corruption, use of recreational drugs, and the high value of abalone—to explore why poaching has not subsided. The paper suggests two additional measures that might help ameliorate the situation: eliminating the demand side through enforcement targeted on organized crime, and ceding the resource to the local coastal communities. However, local communities need to be empowered to deal with organised crime groups. Complementary measures to bring back community patriotism will also be needed given the tattered social fabric of the local coastal communities.