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The Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) has launched the SASSI Seafood Circle, which recognises restaurants and chefs that are actively championing sustainable seafood practices in their restaurants.
The assessment, sponsored by Pick n Pay, evaluated 70 restaurants across South Africa, looking at their various approaches to implementing, supporting and promoting sustainable seafood practices.
Criteria on which the restaurants and chefs were assessed were the restaurant’s seafood sustainability policy; the effectiveness of their communication of their seafood sustainability practices to their customers, employees and suppliers; their level of engagement in communicating their seafood sustainability practices to a wider audience (e.g. via social media, TV appearances, etc.); and, the “trailblazer factor”, which are those chefs and restaurants that are going the extra mile in promoting and supporting seafood sustainability.
The 12 winning WWF-SASSI Trailblazers were from Cape Town, KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg. Cape Town winners were Brad Ball from Bistro 1682; Vanessa Marx from Dear Me; Henry Vigar from La Mouette; Tanjia Kruger from Majeka House; Bjorn Gudio from The Millhouse; Rudi Liebenberg from The Mount Nelson; Chris Erasmus from Pierneef a la Motte; Bertus Basson from Overture and Stefan Marais from Societi Bistro. KwaZulu-Natal Trailblazers were Jackie Cameron from Hartford House; Kevin Joseph from Oyster Box and from Johannesburg, Marthinus Ferreira of DW Eleven-13.
Choosing fish wisely
Many people may not be as educated as they should when it comes to choosing which seafood to cook or order, and the unsustainable harvest of the world’s oceans has led to the depletion and, in some cases, the collapse of many of the world’s major fish stocks.
In 2004, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) established SASSI to inform and educate all participants in the seafood trade, from wholesalers to restaurateurs through to seafood lovers, about sustainable seafood. By using a “traffic light” system, the colour-coded SASSI list categorises selected South African and imported seafood species according to their conservation status.
Green-listed fish is the group from which consumers are encouraged to choose, as it contains the most sustainable choices from the healthiest and most well-managed populations. These species can handle current fishing pressure.
Orange-listed fish includes species that have associated reasons for concern either because the species is depleted as a result of overfishing and cannot sustain current fishing pressure, the fishery that catches them may cause particularly severe environmental damage or the lifestyle of the species makes it vulnerable to high fishing pressure. Consumers are encouraged to think twice and consider the implications of these choices.
The red-listed fish group includes both unsustainable species, which are from collapsed populations or have extreme environmental concerns or lack appropriate management, and species that are illegal to buy or sell in South Africa. These species should never be bought by consumers, and fish highlighted in bold in this category are illegal to sell in South Africa.
A more detailed list is available for download on the SASSI website.
Restaurants’ duty to practice safe seafood
Bronwen Rohland, director of marketing and sustainability at Pick n Pay said, while it may be the responsibility of the government to regulate and monitor fishing activities, it is also the duty of every seafood restaurant, retailer and consumer to support sustainable and responsible fishing practices.
“In line with Pick n Pay’s commitment to only stock sustainably sourced seafood by the end of 2015, this is an exciting step in recognising restaurants who are also encouraging, supporting and implementing sustainable seafood practices,” Rohland said. “We believe that the SASSI Seafood Circle will help to both raise awareness and guide more consumers to make sustainable seafood choices.”
Pick n Pay has also joined forces with SASSI to create a sustainable seafood cook book that can be downloaded for free on the website.