Sustainable fisheries | WWF South Africa
©: Ian McCarthy

Seafood continues to be one of the most traded food commodities worldwide. As a result the fisheries and aquaculture (fish farming) sectors are key sources of employment and income, supporting the livelihoods of a significant number of the world’s population.

Globally a number of important fish stocks are seriously depleted. The rising demand for seafood coupled with a growing human population has placed increasing pressure on our marine resources. The result is the continued decline in many global and local wild fish resources. Fishing activities can have a number of other often unseen impacts besides over-harvesting that threaten the health of our oceans:

•  Creating an ecosystem imbalance by removing key species and disrupting marine food webs

•  Damaging sensitive marine habitats through certain destructive fishing methods

•  The capture of bycatch species (non-target species that are caught during fishing operations), including vulnerable and endangered species such as albatrosses, sharks and sea turtles. Many of these animals are cannot sustain high levels of fishing pressure.


To address these environmental impacts and protect and enhance marine ecosystem health as whole, WWF is working with governments and fisheries to implement a more holistic Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries (EAF) management. This approach moves away from a single-species focus and seeks to protect and enhance the marine ecosystem health as whole, on which life and human benefits depend as well as balance the diverse needs and values of both present and future generations.

It is also important to recognise that a truly holistic approach to creating sustainable fisheries goes beyond focusing on individual supply chain components and requires the engagement of the broader seafood industry all the way from the fisherman’s hook to the final product delivered to the consumer at their local fish shop, supermarket or restaurant. We work along the full supply chain from direct engagement with the fishing industry to public-facing engagement through WWF-SASSI (Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative). This awareness raising initiative empowers retailers, restaurants, chefs and consumers to make responsible, sustainable seafood choices.

Our marine environment holds great economic value, with coastal goods and services contributing significantly to South Africa’s gross domestic product. Read more here.

Oceans are the cornerstone of life on our planet. They cover more than two thirds of our planet’s surface, produce 70% of our oxygen and are responsible for driving the Earth's weather systems. Read more here.

WWF-SASSI was initiated in collaboration with networking partners in 2004 to educate those in the seafood trade from wholesalers to restaurateurs through to seafood lovers about what sustainable seafood is. This is primarily achieved through the development of a seafood sustainability ‘traffic light’ system that divides species into Green-list (sustainable choice), Orange-list (think twice) and Red-list (avoid). Read more here.

Fishing responsibly and balancing our impacts on the oceans will enable us to maintain productive fish stocks that can help feed an ever growing population, and ensure healthy oceans.  For this reason it is vital that all fishing activities, from recreational to commercial to small-scale, are managed within ecological limits. Read more here.