When you gaze upon the horizon at a calm ocean, do you ever wonder what lies beneath? If not, there’s one day on our calendar set aside to ponder those depths we take for granted. 8 June is World Oceans Day, igniting conversation and inspiring action to protect the life-giving blue blood of our planet. The ocean and seafood choices is always top of mind at the World Wide Fund for Nature’s Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (WWF-SASSI).
WWF-SASSI encourages lifestyle choices to be made with the oceans in mind. Sustainable seafood is one such solution – this means seafood that is caught or farmed with less environmental and social impacts. Currently more than 93% of fish populations are considered to be either fully fished or over-fished, making it more important now than ever to make sustainable choices when it comes to what seafood we put on our plates.
A reconnection with our oceans and refusal is needed when it comes to red-listed fish such as black musselcracker, bluefin tuna, Cape salmon, Mozambican langoustines, red stumpnose and many others. When you learn about the roles they play in our oceans and the rarity of these loved animals, it becomes so much easier to make a better choice! When you hear about common instances of bycatch – the unintended catch of marine animals – you may see prawns very differently and will perhaps think twice or refuse altogether.
The culinary industry has adapted over the years with changing times, and so should each person’s seafood consumption. The demand for seafood is greater now than ever before, and we can no longer utilise the ocean’s resources at a rate from which it can’t recover. In the best interest of your children and theirs, we can simply no longer consume every fish in the sea. The WWF-SASSI list is based on rigorous, relevant and recent science that categorises popular marine species according to an easy-to-use ‘traffic light’ system of red (don’t buy), orange (think twice) and green (best choice).
Choosing sustainability means choosing longevity – having enough for the future – being selective about our choices and allowing declining marine species to recover. It also makes good business sense – check out WWF-SASSI’s business guide for restaurants, delis and chefs. If there’s one thing that the current COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, it’s that we need to safeguard our businesses and oceans even more now to ensure future generations can still enjoy nature’s bounty.
Interestingly, many people equate sustainability with paying more money, but that doesn’t have to be the case! Green-listed snoek or hake, for example, are some of the cheapest on the market, the most easily available and sustainable, too. Chef Peter Tempelhoff recently did a live cooking demo with UN World Oceans using WWF-SASSI green-listed Cape Hope squid. “You need to be innovative and creative with seafood using lesser known sustainable fish and cheap fish,” he said – a lesson that not all that glitters is gold.
WWF-SASSI works with a number of chefs who are dedicated to championing sustainable seafood dishes. Here are some delicious recipes that you can try at home from WWF-SASSI Trailblazer chefs. Yellowtail gravadlax from chef Jocelyn Myers-Adams, Regional Chair of the South African Chefs Association; pickled fish from chef Jason Whitehead; cured hake croquettes from chef Kyle Knight of The Shop; and a fish curry from chef Keshan Ramburan of the Table Bay Hotel Sun International, a WWF-SASSI partner. Even better, pair these dishes with your favourite WWF Conservation Champion wine!
While some chefs, restaurants, retailers and seafood suppliers have made sustainability critical to their business model and will gladly promote this, there are still some who don’t. Considering that you have a choice, we ask you to make it green. You can do this by asking the right questions: What seafood (species) is it? How was it caught or farmed? Where is it from? These questions will not only assist in using the SASSI app, web list and pocket card, but it also helps to stay in check with your choices and whether they are part of the problem or solution.
After all, our world’s oceans are worth more than one celebratory day – join us in ocean conservation and be a champion too!
Tag @wwfsassi on social media to share your sustainable seafood creations.