Smarter Seafood ChoicesThe Arebbusch Travel Lodge Restaurant Is Proud To Apply SASSI Principles
Why Sustainable Seafood?
More and more people are considering seafood as a healthy and alternative natural protein source. In a time when many consumers regard products from conventional commercial land based farms with increasing suspicion, seafood is growing in popularity. Spurred on by the globalisation of markets, seafood has become the most traded commodity in the world. This is driven on further by trend setters in the culinary world, seafood has exploded onto restaurant menus and retail store shelves.
But less widely known or publicised are the conservation issues surrounding seafood species. Many of our seafood species are harvested at unsustainable rates, and in many cases the activity of fishing may cause unacceptable damage to the oceans ecosystem with potential for serious long-term effects.
If we want to continue to enjoy the variety and diversity of seafood that we have become accustomed to for decades to come, we need to start making informed choices now!
Fisheries in Crisis
It is now widely accepted that commercial fisheries are in a state of decline worldwide. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report (SOFIA) from The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released in 2006 indicates that over 76% of world fish stocks are exploited at or above sustainable levels.
Total world marine capture fisheries for 2005 was estimated at 84.2 million tons, down from 2004 and around the 84 million ton mark, the average for the past decade. Aquaculture production, however, has been on a steady increase since 2000 and in 2005 contributed more than a third of the total fish production (wild caught and farmed). There have also been a growing number of papers published in top scientific journals addressing the impacts and issues around overfishing.
Perhaps the most worrying trend is that some fisheries have failed to show any signs of recovery even after many years of protection. The best (or worst) example is the northwest stock of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) which in Canadian waters has been closed to fishing since 1990, and is now listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
How to make a smarter seafood choice
When buying seafood there are a number things to consider:
- Buy from the right people: make sure that you buy your seafood from reputable dealers who buy only from registered commercial fishers and importers. Remember that recreational fishers may never sell their catch.
- Buy the right species: some species of fish may not be sold, as they cannot handle heavy fishing pressure. Others are in need of a break and we should go slow on them.
- Consider how it was caught: some fishing methods have greater environmental impacts than others. Ask your supplier how the particular seafood was caught or produced, and find out more about the different fishing methods.
SASSI provides guidelines to help you make better choices
The Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) was initiated in November 2004 in order to inform and educate all participants in the seafood trade, from wholesalers to restaurateurs through to seafood lovers. The initiative builds on an earlier project started in the KwaZulu-Natal Province which sought to educate restaurant dealers about the Marine Living Resources Act and other marine conservation issues.
SASSI has three primary objectives:
- Promote voluntary compliance of the law through education and awareness
- Shift consumer demand away from over-exploited species to more sustainable options
- Create awareness around marine conservation issues
For more information, visit the SASSI website at – www.wwfsassi.co.za
Arebbusch Travel Lodge attempts to subscribe to the principles laid out by SASSI and to offer seafood on its menu that is caught from fish stocks that have not been “over-fished”.
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