/ ©: African Renaissance



Our oceans are a vast source of considerable economic, recreational and cultural benefits.
A significant proportion of the world’s population, 2.6 billion people, depends on the oceans for food or income. And due to the numerous health benefits it affords, seafood has grown in popularity the world over, so much so that the average person eats 6 kg more fish every year now than in the 60’s. But, as much as the ocean has always been considered an inexhaustible resource, the reality is that it is limited in its supply. Their unsustainable harvest has led to the depletion of many of the world’s major fish stocks.

According to the State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) report of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) released in 2008, 80% of global fish stocks are being fished either at or above sustainable levels, (click here to read more). This is also evident in South African waters; because of the different sectors targeting our resources and the many different methods used to catch fish our seafood resources simply cannot replenish themselves fast enough.

In addition to this, some fisheries are wasteful, resulting in a quarter of marine resources caught being discarded, including vulnerable and endangered species such as sea birds, turtles and sharks . Some fishing methods also cause damage to habitats critical to the survival of many marine species. Click here to read more.

And with the poor state of the world’s wild-capture stocks, fish farming (or aquaculture), is seen by many as the answer to overfishing, but this also has its associated impacts and consequences that cannot be ignored.

Fortunately, while the outlook for many threatened marine ecosystems appears ominous 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. Conscientious consumers are also awakening to the fact that, through changing their seafood choices to sustainable species, they can be a part of the solution to overfishing.

SASSI (the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) along with its sister scheme, the Responsible Fisheries Programme aims to create a climate for this change by addressing all aspects along the seafood supply chain in a holistic manner, from the fisherman’s hook all the way to the final product delivered to the consumer at their local fish shop or restaurant.

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