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SASSI tackles Gauteng

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melisha_newsletterWith the current plight of dwindling fish populations and exploitation of fisheries both globally and nationally, WWF-SASSI aims to make its mark in the sustainable seafood hub in Gauteng. As South Africa’s economic gold mine, Gauteng’s seafood industry is fast growing and high demanding.

Creating awareness on sustainable seafood is pivotal to making a marked change in how we as consumers, retailers and restaurants view seafood. Implementing SASSI friendly measures that ensure we make the green choice and question the source of our seafood is high on the agenda to develop a food conscious society.

Some of Gauteng’s top chefs have already volunteered to be a SASSI ambassador and some new and exciting news is to follow.

The newest member to the WWF-SASSI team is Master of Science Wits graduate, Melisha Nagiah (pictured above ). With a tenacious and passionate spirit, the Johannesburg based SASSI Programme Officer is motivated to bring about effected change in the consumer and retailer market ensuring we are all committed to creating and maintaining a sustainable seafood industry.

SASSI celebrates Mandela Day

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Inspired by Mandela’s legacy and his commitment to social jukmbeachcleanstice and human wellbeing, WWF South Africa’s employees rolled up their sleeves to work at various community projects across the country, contributing their 67 minutes to society to uphold Madiba’s legacy.

In the southern peninsula of Cape Town, a team of committed WWF graduate interns from WWF’s co-ordinated a group activity for about 40 WWF staff at Kommetjie’s Masiphumelele informal settlement, the home of the Masakhane Educare Centre for early childhood development. WWF teamed up with the BGCMA, GIZ, Witzenberg Municipality and litter in the polluted Wabooms River for Mandela Day.

From inland Ceres to coastal Kleinmond, residents of this fishing town have been pooling resources to clean up their coastline. Mandela Day was the town’s second demonstration of community spirit in 2016, following the Kleinmond Harbour Clean Up Day on 4 June which saw locals, equipped with garden tools and refuse bags, clearing litter around Kleinmond’s popular harbour. In Gauteng, a few of our pandas joined the Minister of Water and Sanitation on Jukskei river clean-up campaign in Alexandra.

All of these Mandela Day activities are connected to WWF’s on-going work with communities which aligns with one of WWF-SA’s strategic goals to ensure that healthy ecosystems underpin social and economic well being.

“Freedom alone is not enough without light to read at night, without time or access to water to irrigate your farm, without the ability to catch fish to feed your family.” Nelson Mandela

SASSI Trailblazer Chef Awards 2016

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tbchefs2016Six of South Africa’s finest cuisine masters have been crowned as SASSI Trailblazer Chefs for 2016. Each of the winners are accomplished in their own right. These six individuals have gone above and beyond in their kitchens to create and maintain a sustainable seafood hub within their industry.

The winners for 2016 are chefs Andrea Burgener (The Leopard), Carl van Rooyen (Vineyard Hotel), Claire Blinkhorn-Street (Haute Cabriere), Constantijn Hahndiek (Hartford), Leon Coetzee (Kurland Hotel) and Simon Ash (The Fat Fish).

Congratulations to these game changing chefs!

Deep-sea trawl operators and WWF-SA team up to tackle fishy issues

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18 May 2016

The South African Deep Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA) has teamed up with conservation organisation, WWF South Africa (WWF-SA), to dramatically improve the management of at least 12 non-target fish species that are caught alongside hake in the offshore demersal trawl fishery.

SADSTIA’s members are the trawler owners and operators that deliver hake to fish and chip shops in every corner of South Africa; process and package fish fingers and other popular hake products for local supermarkets; and also supply a demanding international market with a range of value-added hake products.

For the next three years, SADSTIA will work with WWF-SA to implement the South African Offshore Trawl Bycatch Fishery Conservation Project (FCP) which will undertake research, implement practical actions, and generally improve the environmental performance and sustainability of the fishing activity of SADSTIA’s members, with a particular focus on non-target species management.

The non-target species are kingklip (Genypterus capensis), monkfish (Lophius vomerinus), angelfish (Brama brama), Cape dory (Zeus capensis), gurnard (Chelidonichthys capensis), horse mackerel (Trachurus capensis), jacopever (Helicolenus dactylopterus), octopus (Octopus vulgaris), panga (Pterogymnus laniarus), ribbonfish (Lepidopus caudatus), snoek (Thyrsites atun) and a number of skate species.

Although these species are collectively referred to as “non-target species” or “by-catch”, they are retained and processed by trawl operators and many of the lower value species, for example panga, snoek and angelfish, are valued as a source of good quality animal protein by lower income groups, particularly in the Western Cape.

In spite of their importance, the management of these species has traditionally taken a backseat to the Cape hakes (Merluccius paradoxus and M. capensis) that are the target of the deep-sea trawl fishery. The hakes are certified as sustainable and well managed by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and these species are the only ones in Africa to have achieved this status.

Although the objective of the FCP is to fundamentally improve the management of the deep-sea trawl fishery as a whole, an intended spin-off for SADSTIA and its members is that certain species are anticipated to move off the Red-list or Orange-list of the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (WWF-SASSI) and towards a WWF-SASSI Green-listing.

As Tim Reddell, chairman of SADSTIA and director of Viking Fishing explains, improved WWF-SASSI ratings will substantially enhance the image of SADSTIA which has done so much to improve its environmental footprint.

“It is 12 years since the South African trawl fishery for hake was first certified as sustainable and well managed by the MSC and in that time the industry has more than lived up to the conditions of certification. This latest partnership with WWF-SA is another important step towards improving the environmental footprint of the fishery. We have to pay attention to these non-target species and improve their management,” he says.

The FCP is based on the findings of a Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA) funded project aimed at understanding how best to improve the sustainability status of bycatch species in the hake offshore demersal trawl fishery. Jessica Greenstone, the WWF-SA Marine Science and Policy Lead who compiled the initial RFA report and played a key role in developing the FCP, noted, “This is an exciting step towards implementing an ecosystem approach to fisheries management in the deep-sea trawl sector. A number of fish species that are part and parcel of the fishery will finally be given the attention they deserve through at-sea monitoring of total catches and scientific assessments of their stock status. This project also highlights the synergies of industry, government and civic organisations working together to accomplish more than anyone could alone.”

While the FCP is underway, an “Improvement Icon” will be used by WWF-SASSI to indicate that an improvement project is underway for the main non-target species caught in the deep-sea trawl fishery. This will ensure that WWF-SASSI participating retailers, restaurants and suppliers who have made commitments to sustainable seafood and supporting fisheries under improvement can easily identify which species are part of this FCP. Consumers will also be able to easily access this information as the “Improvement Icon” will be used on the main WWF-SASSI public facing tools, including the WWF-SASSI Pocket Cards, Posters and Website.

SADSTIA will play a pivotal role in the FCP and to some extent, the success of the project will come down to the ability of skippers and fishing crews to adapt to new on-board routines and practices. For instance, the skippers and fishing crews who work on the 53 trawlers that are participating in the project (27 fresh fish vessels and 26 freezer vessels) will be required to change the way they log and report catches. The goal is to ensure there is better recording at drag level and that catches are sorted, accurately tallied and reported. Such information will help scientists at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to extract accurate catch data for each of seven priority non-target species and, in time, the top 12 non-target species landed by the fishery.

WWF-SA welcomes the willingness of the various stakeholders to collaborate on this FCP. John Duncan, WWF-SA Marine Programme Senior Manager, commented: “More often than not, there are practical solutions to many of the challenges facing our oceans, but we’re only going to solve them by sitting down and figuring them out together. This project is a great example of this and it’s exciting to see the shift in mindsets from all involved.”

Public support for Phakisa MPAs

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The South African government has recently proposed a network of 21 new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) aimed at increasing ocean protection from only 0.4% of South Africa’s ocean territory to 5%. While this is still a ‘drop in the ocean’ compared to what is needed to secure healthy oceans, it is a great step in the right direction and we need your help to let our decision-makers know that this is important to you.

With the growing human pressures from marine mining, energy supply, fishing, aquaculture and tourism, our oceans have never been in greater need of protection, the proposed MPAs are thus a critical aspect of ensuring protection for our marine ecosystems and their functioning in the face of these challenges. The mixture of offshore and inshore MPAs have been designed to protect vulnerable habitats and secure spawning grounds for various marine species, thereby helping to sustain fisheries and ensure long-term benefits important to food and job security.

The proposed MPA network includes charismatic marine ecosystems such as a deep fossilised yellow wood forest, a deep cold water coral reef standing up to 30m tall, undersea mountains and canyons each with unique biodiversity. It also provides protection to vulnerable island ecosystems which host more than half the world’s African Penguins. Click here for an overview of each of the proposed 21 MPAs, and what they are designed to protect.

At present, the proposed MPAs have been gazetted for public comment (download the government gazette here) and there is still an opportunity for members of the public to provide constructive comments on how these MPAs will impact on your lives, for better or for worse. The more information there is, the better the ultimate design of the MPAs and the more likely they are to achieve their purpose. If you would like to submit formal comments about the proposed MPAs, we have developed a set of commenting guidelines and tips to help you do this.If you only have 2 minutes but still want to let Government know that you are supportive of increasing our ocean’s protection, you can sign the online petition in support of MPAs here. Do it, your grandchildren will thank you.



21 new marine protected areas coming soon!

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MPA graphic copyThe South African Government through Operation Phakisa and in partnership with a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the marine sector has proposed declaring 21 new mid-ocean marine protected areas (MPA).

These new MPAs have set management objectives and have been designed to protect important marine habitats and ecosystems that will contribute to the longevity of South Africa’s oceans. Together, the new MPAs will increase the extent of South Africa’s MPA coverage from 0.5% to 5% of our oceans.

MPAs offer many benefits for nature and society. They protect critical habitats for the reproduction and growth of species and allow sensitive ocean areas to recover from the stresses of exploitation and extraction while contributing to healthy marine sites for sustainable and responsible eco-tourism.


To find out more, visit the websites for Operation Phakisa and the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Waves of change through our seafood industry

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Report coverDeveloping a sustainable seafood industry requires more than sustainable fishing, it is about addressing all parts of the supply chain. With its consumer, market and fisheries initiatives, WWF-SA has built a strong foundation for a future in which all stakeholders in the seafood industry understand their roles in conserving our marine resources.
A recently released report from WWF-SA highlights the progress made by nine South African retailers, suppliers and restaurants that are part of WWF-SASSI’s Retailer/Supplier Participation Scheme. Each of these participants made clear and time-bound commitments to sustainable seafood, and for six of the participating companies – I&J, John Dory’s, Pick n Pay, Food Lovers Market, Woolworths and SPAR – their target dates set for reaching some of their goals came to term at the end of 2015. Their commitments are that at the set date, the retailer/supplier/restaurant will sell only Green-listed species, or species that are Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified or under a Fisheries Improvement Project. While not all the commitments were met, these companies have made significant inroads into meeting their commitments and have now plotted a revised path to success. See what they accomplished to date here.

The report, ‘Waves of Change’, can be downloaded here.

Big strides for Kogelberg small-scale fisheries

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WWFSA_Kleinmond copyThe Kogelberg Small Scale Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP) is a pilot project that aims to maximise socioeconomic benefits for the Kleinmond coastal community through market-based incentives, before addressing the environmental challenges facing the small-scale fishers. It is part of the WWF-SA Marine Programme’s approach to addressing the environmental challenges facing small-scale fisheries.

Improving catch data
Gathering and analysing reliable catch data is crucial to managing small-scale fisheries effectively. To improve the quantity and quality of the information being collected, the Integrated Catch Data Monitoring (IMS) project was developed. The project aims to upgrade the paper-based system to a web-based one. Currently, the monitors and fishers who work to keep track of this information for small-scale fisheries use paper and pens to record the data, so it is prone to inaccuracies and manipulation.
There are four monitors and three fishers in the Kleinmond area who are assisting with piloting this project, and since the west-coast rock lobster season opened in November 2015, progress has been steady. The monitors have found the electronic collation of data using tablets much better than keeping track on various paper documents. One of the monitors, Zalisidinga Humphrey Kondlo, explained, “If I had to choose between the paper work and the tablets for capturing of data, my best option would be the tablet. It makes life easier because there is no need to worry about losing paper work and supervisors having to come and pick up the documents on a regular basis.”
Progress has been exceptional with commercial fishers; they have seen smart-phones as the best option for capturing and monitoring data. They are able to capture what they see when they are at sea and to share pictures with other fishers.
“There have been a few changes or corrections that needed to be made, and both the fishers and the monitors are engaging positively with the project to ensure its smooth implementation”, said the programme manager Mr Mkhululi Silandela

Expanding markets
The Kleinmond Vrou Primary Cooperative had the privilege of meeting the General Manager of Pick n Pay Fish Shops, Mr Cliff van Diggelen, and the Financial Manager of Breco, Mr Neil Pascall, in December 2015. Through its good working relationship with Pick n Pay, WWF-SA managed to fulfil one of the goals of the Kleinmond Vrou Primary Cooperative by negotiating that both companies sell pickled and smoked mussels to local restaurants and large retail stores.
The Kleinmond Vrou Cooperative will buy fresh mussels from west coast mussel farms, with WWF-SA arranging the transportation of the mussels to Kleinmond. The cooperative will use a local facility, which was secured by WWF-SA, and Pick n Pay and Breco have agreed to assist with branding and making the mussels available in major Pick n Pay outlets around the Western Cape.

On a rocky road: the west coast rock lobster

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West coast rock lobster, Jasus lalandii

West coast rock lobster, Jasus lalandii

Rock lobsters live – and are fished – on both the east and west coasts of South Africa but are two distinct species,. Both species are slow-growing and live a long time. And until recently, they were orange-listed by WWF-SASSI. This year, SASSI re-assessed the rock lobster species harvested on the west coast (Jasus lalandii) and determined it to be worse off than when it was last assessed, in 2013. Now, unfortunately, the draft suggests it may be Red-listed but this has not been finalised. This change in the status of the west coast rock lobster came about due to the declines in the health of the population. Not only has the size of the entire west coast rock lobster population decreased compared to 2013 estimates, but in certain areas the species has reached or is close to the threshold level required to close all fishing. Other concerns flagged in 2013 still remain unresolved. Among these, issues with poaching and ecosystem impacts, and a lack of management activities to sufficiently address these concerns. WWF-SA and DAFF, through a joint partnership, have committed to developing a Fisheries Conservation Project (FCP) with key stakeholders to rebuild the stock and address the causes of the decline. The FCP workplan is an ambitous and holistic undertaking which will include new effort controls, programmes to address poaching, training and multi-stakeholder engagements.

Demersal Longline Fishery – change on the water!

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_0011492South Africa’s demersal (bottom) longline fishery is among our country’s most valuable fishing sectors. The three main seafood species it catches are two hakes – shallow-water and deep-water hake – and kingklip. Yet in 2010, when WWF-SASSI assessed the fishery for its SASSI List, they were concerned about its sustainability and all three species were placed on the Orange list, causing consumers to ‘think twice’ before buying it. Why? Incidental bycatch of other non-targeted species and endangered seabirds were among the main issues.
The longline fishery association (SAHLLA), in an effort to see this listing improve, approached WWF-SA, and in 2013, together they embarked on a Fishery Conservation Project with the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and with the assistance of CapMarine and BirdlifeSA. The first step was to put observers on fishing boats to gather information. They monitored and recorded seabirds interactions with the fishing gear, what and how much was caught as bycatch, how much of the catch was discarded and how much of the fishing gear (hooks) were lost at sea.
Based on the information that the observers collected, WWF-SA and its partners, trained crews in responsible fishing practices, got industry to use bird-scaring devices that were re-designed to improve their effectiveness, and researchers assessed the effects of the fishery on sensitive habitats.

When WWF-SASSI did a new assessment of the demersal longline fishery last year, in 2015, they found a noticeable improvement in the sustainability of the fishery; it was having less of an impact on seabirds and there had been a decrease in bycatch of shark and ray species. Even though kingklip is caught as bycatch by the fishery, and therefore was not the main focus of the conservation plan, it was still deemed more sustainable thanks to these efforts. This shows the positive impact that a Fishery Conservation Project can have on non-target species.
The result was that all three species, the two hakes and kingklip, were moved from the SASSI Orange list to the Green list.