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Sustainable Fishing – Our Future

The unsustainable harvest of the world’s oceans has led to the depletion and, in some cases, collapse of many of the world’s major fish stocks. While the outlook for many threatened marine ecosystems remains bleak in the face of unsustainable fishing practices, those involved in the seafood industry are realising that by changing the way they conduct business now, the long-term viability of their industry can be ensured.

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 2004, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) established the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (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.

This 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. 



This group 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, or the fishery that catches them may cause particularly severe environmental damage and/or has high bycatch, 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. 


This group includes both unsustainable species, which are from collapsed populations or have extreme environmental concerns and/or lack appropriate management, and species that are illegal to buy or sell in South Africa (no-sale species). These species should never be bought by consumers. Fish highlighted in bold in this category are illegal to sell in South Africa.

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