10 Jan 2015 | By Sun International

How to Make Ocean-friendly Seafood Choices

Did you know? Almost 85% of the ocean's marine life is dangerously depleted due to overfishing, bycatch and habitat damage. In fact, some studies predict a worldwide fisheries collapse by as soon as 2048. That means, 33 years from now, there'll be no seafood left. None.

It's an impossible concept to grasp because we've always seen the ocean as a bottomless resource. The reality is that over 158 million tons of seafood is harvested every year, and marine species cannot reproduce fast enough to keep up with the hunt.

It's time we realised we're all in the same boat. Whenever you order seafood off a menu or buy it in a supermarket, you're making a choice that affects the environment. But with so many different seafood options available, how can you ensure you make yours an ocean-friendly choice? Thanks to organisations like the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI), you now have all the information you need:

Red Means Stop, Green Means Go

Not all seafood is equal. SASSI has created an easy-to-understand "traffic light" approach to seafood by listing marine species in 3 categories: green-listed seafood is not endangered and you can eat it with a clear conscience; pause before you order an orange-listed species off the menu as it's under threat; and if the seafood is listed as red, it's highly endangered and you should not buy it.

Did you know? Supporting SASSI's vision for a sustainable seafood industry by following their "traffic light" approach means you're also supporting responsible fisheries and the many communities that rely on healthy ecosystems for their livelihood.

Dining Out

If you can, choose one of the seafood restaurants that have partnered with SASSI. These restaurants have a strong sustainability policy in place, and are able to provide you with information on making ocean-friendly choices. You can have your seafood and eat it, safe in the knowledge that it comes from responsible, well-managed fisheries.

Did you know? By 2017, every Sun International-owned restaurant in South Africa will only offer green-listed seafood on their menus. This means that a total of 26 Sun International restaurants will carefully redesign their menus to include only SASSI-approved green-listed fish from sustainable suppliers.

Quick Tips for Smart Ocean-Friendly Shopping

  1. Check whether the species is on SASSI's green list by using the FishMS service. All you do is type the name of the seafood species into a text message and send it to 0794998795. You'll receive a response telling you whether to tuck in, think twice or avoid altogether. If the species is a commonly caught linefish species, there will also be information about minimum size and bag limits, which are set by DAFF.
  2. Look out for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) eco-label next time you are out shopping. The MSC is the only independent assurance you can have of sustainability in wild-capture fisheries.

The choice is yours. But if you are what you eat, make sure what you're ordering is not a bad decision.