SASSI has devised a way for people to make responsible choices when ordering meals at seafood restaurants and Ocean Basket has successfully launched this initiative, making sustainable seafood an easy choice for all.
Ocean Basket announced that they are committed to transforming their wild capture seafood procurement to meet strict sustainability standards.
Roelof Brink, head of strategic sourcing at Ocean Basket, said: “The reality is that the world’s oceans are under grave threat and as a national seafood restaurant franchise we have a responsibility to actively promote sustainability in our supply chains. Our overall aim is to increase the availability of sustainable seafood and promote responsible fishing and farming practices, recognising that a significant proportion of the world’s fisheries or aquaculture facilities do not currently meet internationally accepted standards of sustainability.”
The group also aims to ensure that by 2020 all seafood procured from aquaculture operations is responsibly produced.
The franchise has also promised to inform consumers of the common and scientific names, the country of origin as well as the catch or production method of all seafood sold. This will enable Ocean Basket customers to effectively use WWF Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (WWF-SASSI) consumer tools to determine the sustainability status of the seafood they are buying.
Ocean Basket staff will also be trained to help customers make environmentally conscious seafood choices.
Grace Harding, the company leader of the Ocean Basket Group, said: “Ocean Basket acknowledges that our customers have a right to sufficient and accurate information in order to be able to make environmentally responsible choices. We will ensure that by the end of this year relevant species information is publicly available in-store for all seafood products that we sell.”
Harding went on to say that Ocean Basket was aware of the global concern about the over-exploitation of seafood resources and the environmental impacts of fishery and aquaculture activities on marine ecosystems. She also said: “Ocean Basket will support sustainable and well-managed fisheries and responsible aquaculture operations. We believe this is critical, not only to building a sustainable business model, but also to the long-term maintenance of healthy and productive marine ecosystems, species and livelihoods.”
Ocean Basket has committed to ensuring that they will only sell wild-captured seafood products that are:
- Certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or equivalent standard; or
- On the WWF-SASSI Green-List; or
- Sourced from fisheries that are actively engaged in credible, time-bound improvement projects.
Furthermore, Ocean Basket committed to ensuring that by 2020 they will only sell farmed seafood products that are:
- Certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) or equivalent standard; or
- On the WWF-SASSI Green-List, or
- Sourced from farms that are actively engaged in credible, time-bound improvement projects.
“Ocean Basket’s commitment to sustainable seafood, along with those of other major seafood retailers and suppliers in South Africa, is an important component of the work that WWF-SASSI is doing across the seafood supply chain. Only with a strong pull from the market (of which Ocean Basket represents a significant portion) can we popularise sustainable policies and incentivise fisheries to improve their practices. Consumers, therefore, also have a vital role to play in this process by holding companies like Ocean Basket accountable to the commitments that they have made”, commented Chris Kastern from WWF-SASSI.
Dr Morné du Plessis, WWF-SA’s Chief Executive Officer commented: “It is very encouraging to see the proactive approach that Ocean Basket is taking by not only addressing its own internal seafood sustainability challenges but at the same time supporting broader engagement with the seafood supply chain. This commitment will contribute significantly to our ongoing efforts to keep our fish stocks at healthy levels”.
CAN YOUR CHOICE OF SEAFOOD IMPACT OUR OCEANS?
We really love our seafood here in South Africa. Unfortunately, unsustainable fishing and farming practices are straining our ocean’s resources. Over the last few decades, there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of fish being taken out of the oceans. Latest studies estimate that 85% of all fisheries are now classified as fully fished or beyond. And, because no fishing gear is completely selective, many already endangered species are also being accidentally caught as by-catch. Here, in South Africa, the situation is not much better. Of the much-loved South African linefish, 79% are considered to be over-exploited or collapsed by experts.
Overfishing and its associated environmental impacts is our biggest global environmental challenge alongside those posed by climate change.
So what can we do about it? Well, quite a lot actually:
As the most traded primary commodity in the world, the kind of seafood we buy or sell can have environmental and social impacts at both a global and a local level. And the way seafood is traded is primarily driven by the demand of the seafood lover. That means that it is really important for us to make good choices when choosing our seafood so that we can make sure our favourite seafood is still around for our children as well as their children to enjoy.
Luckily, making a sustainable and environmentally friendly choice is so much easier with WWF-SASSI’s colour-coded seafood pocket guide that provides consumers with the information when needed. The list categorises selected seafood species according to their conservation status in an easy to use “traffic-light” system: Seafood on the Red List should never be bought (as they are either illegal to buy or sell or considered unsustainable in South Africa), Orange-listed species have associated environmental reasons for concern and Green-listed species are the most sustainable choices available, coming from the best managed populations and can be eaten with a clear conscience. The list encourages consumers to always ask three simple questions of their seafood: What is it called? Where is from? How was it caught or farmed?
This information can be obtained using the WWF-SASSI website and mobi site at wwfsassi.mobi, which facilitates viewing of the WWF-SASSI website using a mobile phone. Additionally, the nifty FishMS brings the list to you via an SMS. By texting the name of the fish to the number +27 79 499 8795, the service will send you an immediate response telling you whether to tuck in, think twice or avoid completely. There is also an app for smartphones that consumers can download for free across any of the three major platforms.
Ultimately, our choice of one type of seafood over another really does matter to the health of our marine environment here in South Africa. Not all seafood is equal. But you do have a choice, so make it green!