Saving our seafood

2008-08-22 00:00

The majority of Durban restaurants have taken to only serving seafood that is not listed as endangered or “no sale” species.

In a recent inspection of restaurants and the Durban fish market by members of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF’s) Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (Sassi), the team found that the majority of seafood restaurants and the market were compliant with Sassi’s green list (see box).

The team also found that consumers were making more informed decisions when it came to purchasing seafood from supermarkets and seafood outlets.

To create more awareness about endangered species, Sassi has compiled a list to help consumers decide what fish they can buy without harming the environment.

“Green” species fish are the best as they can handle fishing pressure, “orange” species should be bought with caution while it is illegal to sell “red” species fish in South Africa.

At the market, red snapper, an endangered fish that is on Sassi’s red list, was found at several stalls. This species is under a lot of pressure and is classified as a “no sale” species. The team also found that undersize black musselcracker fish were being sold. These fish only reach maturity at 10 years; however, many are caught before they get a chance to spawn. This has caused huge concern for Sassi who say that the fish is a vulnerable species.

Sassi project manager Kerry Sink found several undersize slingers being sold and said that it was important for law enforcement officials to monitor fishermen.

“Most of the fish comes from Mozambique. Bringing the fish across the border is breaking the law and more emphasis needs to be put on law enforcement,” she said.

Sink said that while it was a concern that fish like musselcracker and red snappers were being sold in the market, she was pleased that the majority of the stalls were compliant.

“I expected to find more endangered fish here but it seems as if people are becoming aware of the fish that are sustainable. We have to put pressure on the fishing industry so that they will comply,” she said.

Sink said that the majority of consumers have changed their seafood preferences and now chose to eat only fish from the green category.

“It’s all about making an informed choice; people need to know that they can help save the environment. The voluntary approach seems to be working,” she said.

BE seafood smart

• Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (Sassi): for more about Sassi’s consumer awarness campaign visit http://www.ewt.org.za/support_sassi.aspx

• Sassi’s green list: compiled for consumers, a species list of relatively healthy and well-managed fish populations — the best option for sustainable use.

• FISHMS line: to check whether a fish is on the “green list” or not, SMS the name of the fish to 079 499 8795. Sassi will SMS back to you the status of the fish.

• Sassi pocket guide and booklet: available at http://www.panda.org.za/sassi/

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