How SASSI Helps to Shift the Demand Towards Sustainable Food Sources
According to the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI), it is possible that 85% of the global fisheries are already depleted, fished to full capacity or over-exploited. This should sound alarm bells for consumers and industry players alike.
Fish is a valuable food source globally. Fisheries and the seafood supply chains provide employment to thousands of people. Depletion of valuable food resources puts global food security, economic wealth, living standards and the environment at risk.
As a local initiative to address these issues, SASSI aims to develop awareness among South African consumers about the importance of seafood sustainability. It also aims to inform role players in the seafood trade about issues pertaining to the sustainability of relevant resources.
SASSI’s Three Main Goals
SASSI works relentlessly towards achieving three main goals:
• Encourage widespread compliance with legislative requirements for the use of the country’s living resources in the ocean through awareness campaigns and ongoing education efforts in this regard.
• Reduce the consumer demand for marine species that have been over-fished, over-exploited and driven to near extinction by shifting the demand towards sustainable seafood species.
• Develop more awareness on various aspects of marine conservation.
What Is the Role of Consumers?
Everyone has a role to play in preventing the depletion of fish and seafood resources. Every food choice made is a choice for conservation or depletion. By supporting companies that practice sustainable fishing practices, consumers do their part in securing food security for the future.
What Is the Role of Supply Chain Operators?
Grocery stores, restaurants and related suppliers of seafood have a responsibility towards buying and supplying seafood that is not on the red list. By encouraging responsible food choices, they can help shift the demand and supply towards sustainable fishing practices.
SASSI List of Species
One of the SASSI initiatives is the provision of a quick reference guide to help consumers make an informed choice regarding the seafood that they purchase. It is not intended as an eco-label but as a guideline. The most popular seafood choices are part of the pocket guide list, but the full list is available online and can be viewed here.
The guidance uses colour coding to help consumers identify which species to buy, which to be watchful about and which not to buy at all:
• Red – not to buy
• Orange – careful consideration
• Green – the best choice in terms of sustainability
SASSI also produces a list of species that are illegal to sell in South Africa, helping consumers to avoid the support of illegal practices. With it being an awareness campaign initiative without the endorsement of any company, SASSI does not seek to certify industries or companies. For eco-labelling and assurances, consumers can look towards the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which certifies fisheries that meet their strict standards for sustainability.
The MSC eco-label can be seen on seafood packaging of fisheries that have met strict certification requirements. When consumers buy blue label products, they support companies committed to sustainable fishing practices. The MSC assesses fisheries in terms of the environmental impact of their practices, the health of the fish stocks and effective management controls in place to ensure the ongoing health of the fish stocks.
Why Does It Matter?
Products that carry the MSC blue label form part of the SASSI green list. Cape Hake, as caught by the members of SADSTIA, forms part of the green list as the hake trawling fishery industry of South Africa has been recertified against the MSC standard for a fourth time.
SASSI makes it easier for consumers to choose their fish and seafood from menus at restaurants and to only buy fish products that are not endangered.
What’s Sea Harvest’s Role?
Sea Harvest is known for the ongoing commitment to sustainable fishing practices and initiatives to conserve marine resources including that of SASSI. As a SADSTIA member and part of the hake trawling fishery industry, the company adheres to the MSC standards, and legislative requirements, also in terms of keeping within the by-catch limits (with focus on limiting the catch of species such as Kingklip)
When consumers buy Sea Harvest Cape Hake, they buy one of the SASSI green list species. View this explanatory video on how the company leads the sustainability fishing sector in South Africa.
The SASSI initiative helps to reduce the environmental impact of fisheries. Support of the initiative starts with learning more about the green list for responsible buyer’s choices. View more information here for making an informed food choice.
Buy Sea Harvest Cape Hake to support the SASSI initiative.