Get fish savvy with SASSI
With the holidays approaching, many of us are looking forward to delicious fish and chips, drowned in salt and vinegar, with a postcard view of the ocean. Do you intend catching your own meal while visiting one of our parks?
A quarter of the world's fish are currently overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion. This means that we may be consuming fish that are heading towards extinction – unless we learn to make smart choices.
Red, Orange, Green
Our decision can be made easily thanks to WWF's South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI). All you need to do is check whether the fish you want to eat (or catch) is on the green, orange or red list. You can download this list off their website: www.wwfsassi.co.za.
Fish on the green list are the most sustainable choices and come from the healthiest and best managed populations. These fish can handle the pressure and include butterfish, dorado, hake, gurnard, calamari, mussels, snoek, yellowfin tuna and yellowtail.
Fish on the orange list are feeling the heat and it is best to consider greener alternatives. These include swordfish, sole, geelbek and kingklip.
Fish on the red list may never be sold. These include galjoen, potato bass and steenbras.
Remember: Green means go for it, orange means you should think twice and red means a definite NO.
Pick n Pay is the first major South African retailer to engage with the SASSI initiative. When you eat out, simply refer to the SASSI list. If you don't have it with you, use the FishMS service. All you need to do is type the name of the seafood species into a text message and send it to 079 499 8795 (save this number on your cell phone now). You will then receive an SMS with the colour category of that fish.
This service is also useful for anglers as commonly caught linefish will have additional information in the SMS, such as minimum size and bag limits.
If you are keen on wetting your lines in our parks, remember that being eco-conscious with this hobby involves more than just getting a permit:
1. Timing. Certain times of the year are open for fishing certain species, and other seasons are closed. This is regulated to protect breeding fish and to ensure populations are maintained. For example, the trout-fishing season in rivers is normally open from September to May each year.
2. Stick to your daily limits (size and number of specific fish species).
3. Fish for the aliens first. It's best to catch and release indigenous fish (such as scalies, tilapia and tiger fish) as far as possible. If you must kill the fish, make sure they're alien species such as large mouth bass, carp and blue gill. Alien fish are often introduced to improve angling in natural rivers and dams, but end up out-competing the smaller, naturally occurring fish and often prey on them too.
4. Catch and release. Unless you plan on eating your entire catch, please do the right thing and let the fighter go!
Here is a list of parks where you can enjoy fishing responsibly:
- Agulhas National Park (rock and deep sea fishing)
- Albert Falls (bass fishing here is very popular)
- Chelmsford: Ntshingwayo Dam (good catches of carp and scalies)
- De Mond (freshwater and marine angling)
- Goukamma (only angling with rod and line from the shore)
- Inanda (The Inanda Bass Classic fishing tournament attracts hundreds of anglers each year.)
- Kamberg (trout dams)
- Lotheni (trout fishing is very popular here)
- Midmar Dam
- Nagle Dam
- Phongolo (tigerfish)
- Robberg Marine Reserve (rock and surf angling)
- Shongweni Dam and Reserve
- Umlalazi (watch out for crocs and sharks)
- Walker Bay (galjoen, kabeljou and steenbras)