It’s time to get hooked on sustainable seafood

2011-07-29 10:09

It is estimated that 85% of the world’s fisheries are overexploited, fully fished or depleted.

Unless we start to take drastic action – tuna, salmon, prawns, sole and kingklip will become as rare as the coelacanth.

The next generation might soon be visiting museums to see them rather than having them for dinner.

Last week, the Shoreline Café at Cape Town’s Two Oceans Aquarium became the first South African restaurant to be awarded the ­Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certificate for serving fish that is sourced from sustainable fisheries.

This is a formal certification process where the restaurant proves that it is only sourcing fish from MSC-certified fisheries throughout its supply chain.

In an ideal world, we would all eat at MSC-certified restaurants and only buy fish that carried the blue MSC label.

But the reality is that of the 118 certified fisheries, only two are found in South Africa – the Tristan da Cunha fishery, a small fishing community in the Atlantic that supplies rock lobster, and the South African hake trawl fishery, which supplies I&J and Sea Harvest.

The only other ­options are imported packaged fish like Woolworths’ tinned mackerel, herring, salmon and smoked salmon.

In many places throughout the world, consumer pressure has put a stop to unsustainable fish finding its way onto menus.

Britain’s Fish2Fork website names and shames (or praises) restaurants ­according to the fish they serve.

The time has come for us to start putting pressure on our fisheries and restaurants to save our seas.

When eating at a restaurant, look for the MSC label next to your choice of fish or select fish from the green list on the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (Sassi) guideline.

Fish on the orange list are either under threat or the way they are fished damages the environment.

That doesn’t mean they are off the menu forever, just that they need time to breed and ­replenish, and that more sustainable fishing practices need to be ­introduced.

Both kingklip and sole are already in recovery and may soon move onto the green list if we give them a chance.

If a restaurant only offers fish from the orange list or carries any fish on the endangered red list, take it up with the restaurant, tweet about it, put it on Facebook and warn your friends.

The buck stops with us.

If we won’t eat the fish, they won’t fish it.

»?See Sassi’s fish list at or text the name of the fish to
079 499 8795. Visit 

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