Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative Launches New Guidebook

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“A billion people rely on fish as their primary source of protein. A quarter of species caught are thrown back in the sea or discarded – usually dead.”

I was in Peter Goffe-Wood [Food Alchemist] kitchen in Woodstock, attending the launch of the new Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative [SASSI] along with other media and supporters such as Woolworths, I&J and Pick ‘n Pay to name a few.

After we had just watched a short video on our depleting ocean, we were assigned by Peter and his team to our work stations were we would cook up some recipes using the green [best choice] fish. One thing that stood out for me, as I chopped up parsley and gerkins for the tartar sauce, was that this wasn’t another ‘gloom’ conservation story, as our hostess from John Brown Media commented.

SASSI is about making the right choices from the consumer, to the restaurant or retail owner, to the men on the boats bringing in the fish. Their system incorporates various different levels of the ‘food chain’ – including the MSC logo on the packaging for the food, the Responsible Fisheries Alliance for the fisherman, to a pocket size guide for the consumer.

The original drafted pocket guide, published early in 2005, excluded imported species, as well as aquaculture species. Tuna was grouped as one and the red [Don’t Buy] fish only had fish that were prohibited from being sold by law.

The new original drafted pocket guide is more comprehensive and includes a wide variety of species. They have also made it possible for consumers if they can’t find the fish in their guide, or forgot their guide at home, to simply sms 079 499 8795 and you’ll get an sms answer straight away informing you whether the fish is green, orange or red.

Dr Samantha Petersen of WWF’s Sustainable Fisheries Programme says, “The new methodology has allowed us to address gaps in the previous SASSI listing process such as the impact of fishing methods and fish farming. Also because it is internationally recognised and adopted, it has allowed us to compare and share our species assessments with other countries that import our seafood or to draw assessments from an international database for seafood imported into South Africa.”

John crushed the last of the capers for the tartar sauce and William [Woolworths] finished up the last of the crumbed hake. After a quick deep-frying our creation was whisked away to be tasted by all. Other dishes came our way including a luxuries mussels in cream sauce (with a touch of fennel) crumbed calamari with what I believe was a mustard sauce, as well as Thai-fish cakes (served with a hot dipping sauce) and angel fish dressed in lemon (and pesto I think) on boiled potatoes and courgettes. Each one a mouth sensation as well as a recipe created by Peter and his team. You can download SASSI recipes to use with your green-listed fish from the website or from the Recipe Booklet.

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