Wednesday, 04 July 2007

Do You Really Want To Eat That Fish?

One of South Africa's greatest assests is her incredible fauna and flora. One of the often forgotten aspects of this is the myriad of life found in the oceans off our coastline. Our oceans are teeming with the most incredible life-forms which are also in need of conservation. Harbours that were once overflowing with fish stock now bring in small amounts of fish due to the over-fishing in years gone by.

Various initiatives over the years have drawn attention to the plight of many of our fish species. However most of us, myself included, give little attention to conservation issues when we place our order at the local seafood restuarant. We don't think about how the fish was caught, if it is on the endangered list, if it was purchased legally or where the fish comes from. All we want to do is enjoy a beautifully prepared plate of delicious seafood.

You now have a way to check before ordering!

The South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) has launched an SMS service to inform consumers about the choices they are making with regard to their choice of seafood. All you do is SMS the name of your choice of fish to 079 499 8795 and a return message is sent to you detailing information about the status of the fish.

Example :

I sms'ed the word 'marlin' and received this messgage : "Marlin. Status - Orange. A game fish and top predator. The only legal source is bycatch of tuna longline fishery. Sale by sports fishers is ILLEGAL."

Now I know!

This also works for crustaceans such as prawns and crayfish.

Status levels are colour coded Red, Green or Orange. The colours have the following meaning :

Red Species: No-Sale

These species are specially protected, restricted, or no-sale species that are illegal to buy or sell according to the law. These species should NEVER be offered for sale, or bought although some may be enjoyed at home if caught by licensed recreational anglers. Make sure you look at the latest regulations.

Green Species: Best Options

These are species that are from relatively healthy and well-managed populations that can sustain current fishing pressure. These species are recommended as the most sustainable choices available.

Orange Species: Species of concern

These species may be sold legally by registered commercial fishers and retailers. However, an increased demand for these could compromise a sustainable supply, due to one or more of the following reasons:

Scientific stock assessments show that the stock is overexploited or collapsed
The fishing method employed to catch them may cause excessive damage to the environment and /or ecosystem;
The species has not been properly studied, but it is suspected that it will be unable to sustain heavy fishing pressure, based on information for related species.
You can download a pocket guide to this initiative by clicking here - Pocket Guide.

I wholeheartedly endorse this initiative and encourage you to add this number to your contacts on your cellphone for the next time you are about to order from the seafood menu.

Cape Town Accommodation

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Buy seafood with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) blue eco-label. This shows the fish or seafood has come from a fishery that has been independently certified as sustainable, and not contributing to overfishing.
Find out more at