>> South African police raid a house in Johannesburg where suspected poachers are holed up, but this isn't about rare mammals like the rhino. These men are accused of illegally harvesting the abalone. If you're not familiar, that's a large sea snail coveted as a delicacy is some parts of Asia and nearly wiped out off the coast of South Africa.
>> You can compare it for instance to very expensive champagne or caviar.>> A report released wildlife trade NGO TRAFFIC on Tuesday says the shell fish, which is also found in cold water off New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the United States has almost been wiped out in South African waters due to illegal harvesting.
>> For the last five or more years, the amount of abolones come out of the water illegally is more than 95%. That means only about 5% or less of what is fished has been legally fished, the rest is been poached.>> Only a limited number of fisheries have licenses for a highly circumscribe amount of abalone.
And penalties for making the law a harsh. Nevertheless, an estimated 96 million were illegally harvested between 2006 and 2016. Government officials say the situation is so bad they may have to impose a blanket ban on all abalone fishing in a bid to stave off extinction. The epicenter of the approaching wave is South Africa's western Cape province where the Atlantic waters were once rich with the gourmet mollusk.
Chronic poverty and joblessness means the illegal abalone trades rewards outweigh its risks. Pushing mostly young men to risk shark attack as well as arrest in the hunt for a delicacy that's been dubbed white gold.