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The importance of choosing sustainable seafood

Megan MacDonald
March 12, 2017


As the sponsors of Sarah Graham’s Food Safari, we’re pretty passionate about great food - and it’s essential to pick ingredients that are sustainable.

South Africans love their seafood, with fish and crustaceans forming a part of many local recipes. From prawns on the braai, snoek and apricot jam to battered hake, the South African palette loves seafood. Unfortunately, our oceans are under threat and eating fish and other seafood is fraught with potential environmental concerns.

As sponsors of the Sarah Graham’s Food Safari, we know that eating seafood sustainably should be a big concern in South Africa. Recently kreef, or West Coast Lobster, was labelled as endangered by the WWF and put on the red ‘do not eat’ list.


As Sarah Graham herself explains, “A huge increase in the amount of seafood taken out of the sea in recent decades means that our global fish stocks are dramatically (and in many cases irrevocably) depleted. Sustainable seafood is also about how seafood is traded – how it’s bought and sold and how it ends up on your plate. In South Africa, the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) started in 2004, and has taken a brilliantly simple green (good), orange (tread with caution) and red (avoid altogether) ‘traffic light’ approach.”


The Green List is “the most sustainable choices from the healthiest and most well-managed fish populations”, according to SASSI, and includes fish like Snoek and Yellowfin Tuna. The Red List highlights fish that can’t be fished sustainably and includes fish like Portuguese Sardine.

Shopping for items on the red list leads to a severe decrease of fish stock. “Although they cover more than 70 percent of our planet, the oceans are not infinitely resilient, and our quest for more and more seafood has brought about disastrous consequences,” says National Geographic.


Infographic from SASSI

Aside from the species, methods of fishing can also be extremely damaging to the environment.

An easy way to keep track on the go is to download the SASSI app to see if your fish choices are environmentally friendly, or use their FishMS programme for a quick status check on the seafood of your choice. FishMS lets you message the name of the fish or other seafood to 079 499 8795 and in minutes you’ll get fast information on the status of that species.

Now that you know what  seafood is on the Green List,


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