Category Archives: News

SASSI at Silwood

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Silwood-Chefs1Every year WWF-SASSI pays a visit to Silwood School of Cookery, South Africa’s oldest cookery school. Silwood graduates can be found in the top kitchens of the world. It is always exciting interacting with young chefs in the making as they engage on issues of ocean conservation and how they can take sustainable seafood practices into their culinary careers. The students are ever ready to learn, question and discuss the state of the world’s fish stocks, sustainable and harmful fishing methods and how they can take these learnings back to their kitchens to implement as ocean champions in their own right.

Kirtanya, WWF-SASSI Project Officer

Valuing our oceans on World Oceans Day 2018

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34581569_10160435467175147_5342443702767845376_nWorld Oceans Day was celebrated by WWF-SASSI on 8 June 2018. In the spirit of valuing our oceans we profiled green listed listed fish like mussels, yellowtail and Cape hake on our social media channels encouraging consumers to choose green. We also launched our new creative educational video!

WWF-SASSI hosted an engaging #ValueOurOceans Twitter chat along with WWF South Africa, Two Oceans Aquarium and Johannesburg Zoo on Valuing Our Oceans. Engagement arose from a diverse group of followers conservation partners and businesses around the following questions: How does the ocean add value to your life?; Apart from seafood, what are the lesser-known treasures the oceans gives us?; How are we taking our oceans for granted; Whether you’re inland or near the sea, what’s the one action you pledge to do something positive for our oceans.

We began with a inspiring quote by Sir David Attenborough puts it who said, “No matter how you look at it, this planet is governed by the blue part. The world truly is mostly a blue place”. We shared the fact that new medicines are being produced from compounds discovered in marine animals, such as the venom of the cone snail having been developed as an analgesic for relieving pain. A compound from the invertebrate sea squirt is also now being used as an anti-cancer drug. SASSI also reminded followers that human induced disruption to the ocean is becoming more apparent, in the form of consuming species that are threatened, endangered or protected or fished or farmed in ways that are damaging our environment. However, not all hope it lost as we can all continue to share the SASSI message to consumers in every corner of South Africa, empowering citizens to make responsible seafood choices and be part of a thriving ocean and future!

Search #ValueOurOceans on social media to follow the conversation!

Kirtanya, WWF-SASSI Project Officer

All things Plastic

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Plastic infographicOn 31 July 2018, the Two Oceans Aquarium hosted a night of inspiration and motivation about single-use plastic and the people who are doing something about it! After a full month of awareness-raising for Plastic Free July, this was the ideal time for everyone to come together and engage with the issue of and solutions to plastic pollution in the ocean.

The “Home to Ocean” event was made up of individual presentations followed by a panel discussion facilitated by our very own SASSI Manager, Pavs Pillay. The speakers included Beach Co-op, POLYCO, Faithful to Nature, Love our Trails, #ICarryMyOwn, Plantastic and Rethink the Bag, who all provided different insights to plastics, based on their initiatives. The engagement included, how what we do in our homes affects the health of the ocean, and that of the planet, how beach clean-ups can move communities to take care of their environment, how economic incentives can jumpstart better-engaged informal recycling efforts, how we can drive change amongst consumers, how the corporate world is responding to the crisis of plastic pollution, how we can green our footprint when it comes to large sporting events and what moves ordinary citizens to start up their own campaigns.

It was an engaging evening which concluded with a thought provoking quote by Pavs Pillay, “We need to remember when we make positive lifestyle changes by refusing and reducing single use plastics, we are also actively changing the legacy we leave for future generations”.

Kirtanya, WWF-SASSI Project Officer


All aboard in Gauteng!

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The SASSI ship continues to cut through the rugged inland terrain of Gauteng through the dedication and commitment of our Gauteng Networking Partners. Following a bustling WWF-SASSI training session with staff from Pretoria Zoo Educational Programme, they hosted a Seas and Oceans week programme which educated more than 1000 grade five to seven learners. The programme was largely based on the importance of our oceans, plastic pollution and the critical need to choose sustainable seafood. In line with holistic conservation of our oceans speaking directly to the food, water, energy nexus, WWF-SA recently launched a fantastic campaign centred on renewable energy. #LeanIn smart benches were located across the country to promote the use of renewable energy and it’s benefits. For the next four weeks, this smart bench will be located at one of Johannesburg’s most popular recreational spaces – Zoo Lake so pop on by, take a shady seat and enjoy the perks of free WIFI and solar power. It’s never been easier to experience and support renewable energy. This set up and campaign would not have been possible without the ongoing support of one of WWF-SASSI’s Networking Partners, Joburg City Parks and Zoos. SASSI has established and maintained a solid working relationship with this dedicated team who have never backed down from their commitments and support. We are definitely looking forward to bigger and better sustainability campaigns in the near future with all of our Gauteng Networking Partners!

Melisha Nagiah, WWF-SASSI Project Officer, Gauteng

WWF South Africa’s Living Planet Conference

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WWF South Africa’s Living Planet Conference held on the 25 July 2018 at Sandton’s Maslow Hotel broke all boundaries by hosting a leading session geared specifically towards empowering South African young professionals. The flagship ‘’Young Professionals Think Shop’’ was hosted and developed by our very own young professionals within WWF. Through collaboration with SASSI and its volunteer network, it proved to be a phenomenal success. The workshop creatively coined as a ‘’Think Shop’’ brought together more than forty young professionals (based in Gauteng) from around the country to assess environmental shocks, such as droughts and floods, to minimise their impact on the economy – and the people of South Africa. It was a jam packed session with debates revolving around the food, water and energy nexus. This Think Shop created a platform at the ‘’Great Debate’’ event for fresh minds to interact and pose some serious questions to some of South Africa’s current leadership. Due to the exceptional need for such engagement and involvement of young professionals, we foresee this event to be even bigger and better in the years to come!

Melisha Nagiah – WWF SASSI Project Officer, Gauteng


Soweto 2 Sodwana -A Chef’s Journey

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Newsletter S2SWhat do you get when you combine two Gauteng-based chefs and a charged course of seafood discovery? An epic #Soweto2Sodwana adventure!

This year started off with a huge splash for SASSI! Explore4Knowledge and WWF-SASSI teamed up to put together a life changing expedition for two young and dynamic Gauteng based chefs. The remarkable journey was aptly pegged as ‘’Soweto2Sodwana journey of chefs’’. The call for such a journey stems from the fact that Gauteng is the second largest seafood consumer in South Africa, yet the sustainable seafood movement that SASSI advocates for, remains a conundrum in this land locked province.

Freedom Khanyile and Terror Lekopa, both gastronomy masters in their own right were invited to be part of this journey. The journey began with a traversing seven hour drive to Kosi Bay in a convoy of three Nissan 4×4’s. Both chefs donned a snorkel and mask for the first time and submerged their heads below the ocean waters exploring old artisanal fishing methods of Kosi Bay and discovering the vast ecosystems of Sodwana Bay. Throughout the journey these chefs were immersed into all things sustainable, and the importance of sustainable seafood and making responsible choices when choosing what to buy and serve. Freedom and Terror were up for all kinds of challenges: a sustainable seafood braai-off with WWF-SASSI braai ambassador Chris Kastern and meeting some of SASSI’s Trailblazer winners, Chefs Jackie Cameron, Constantijn Hahndiek and Graham Nielson.

The chefs learnt about the destructive fishing methods of one of South Africa’s favourite seafood-prawns-by visiting the mangroves. The last leg of the journey tied up all the loose ends with a guided tour at uShaka Marine World, where chefs learnt about turtles, bycatch and plastic pollution with more snorkelling and shark cage diving!

The culmination of the journey inspired these chefs to make catalytic and greater commitments to being ocean champions. In turning the tide in Gauteng, with champions like chefs Freedom and Terror, WWF-SASSI has the ingredients for a winning recipe for change!

Melisha Nagiah – WWF-SASSI Project Officer, Gauteng

Fishers and Scientists in the Same Boat

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Mike Markovina (Marine Conservationist), Amos Hartnick (Fisherman) and Uwe Dorle (Fishermen) working on a BRUV rig during the winter deployment in 2017.

Mike Markovina (Marine Conservationist), Amos Hartnick (Fisherman) and Uwe Dorle (Fishermen) working on a BRUV rig during the winter deployment in 2017.


Growing up in the townships of Philippi and Kraaifontien in Cape Town, as a young hyperactive child, never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be in a boat with fishers and scientists, pulling a BRUV rig 33 metres from the sea floor.

As a young boy I always had an interest in wild animals and I knew from primary school already that I wanted to work with animals (Wild cats in particular such as Lions and Tigers). Fish however were never my favourite animals and the ocean was a no-go-area, because as a child growing up in the township only visiting the beach in December (only to run away from the water most of the time), I did not know how to swim and to me for you to get on a boat and even study fish, you had to be able to swim which was quite scary.

Many years later I have the honour of working for WWF-SA, Marine Programme as the Project Coordinator: Small Scale Fisheries. I now have the privilege of being in the same boat with fishers and scientists working on the Baited remote Underwater Video systems (BRUVs) project in the Kogelberg. The project is an innovative community-driven research partnership between marine scientists and small-scale fishers to gather scientific data about local marine resources in the Kogelberg region of the Western Cape.

The main objective of the project is to draw attention to the unique partnership between the scientists and small-scale fishers in the Kogelberg region in order to grow an appreciation for the challenges of coastal fishing communities and the innovative ways of engaging them into the monitoring and research of species. At the end of 2017, we completed year one of the project in January 2018 and presented the results to participating fishers. The project is currently in the second year of its implementation phase, which consists of bi-annual deployments carried out in summer and winter.

The summer 2018 deployment took place on the 30th of March. For the deployment we had two local vessels, each with a local skipper, one scientist from the South African Shark Conservancy (SASC) and three local small scale fishers as part of the crew. The Moving Sushi vessel also went out on the day as a back-up vessel, to ensure that the two local vessels were doing okay and also deployed a few BRUVs, which is when I again got the chance to pull up a few rigs myself.

Sindisa Sigam – Project Coordinator: Small Scale Fisheries, WWF Marine Programme

The Depths of Durban

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Newsletter DBNBy creating awareness of marine conservation issues linked to seafood, students from the prestigious, Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine are destined to become leaders in the restaurant industry. They strive to drive positive change among their diners as well as their suppliers. uShaka Sea World welcomed these students from the second time to engage about the magic of the ocean and their role in it all.

uShaka also ran an engaging training session for John Dory’s staff from both Wilson’s Wharf and a new restaurant opening at the Cornubia Mall in Umhlanga. Training staff who are entering the restaurant industry were presented concepts that were, in all likelihood, completely new to them. This engagement has been part of shaping their thinking on seafood sustainability.

A highlight for uShaka Sea World was being part of the #Soweto2Sodwana campaign which saw two young, dynamic chefs and the SASSI team spending a fun-filled day of discovery and ocean appreciation at uShaka Sea World. The chefs spent time with ORI scientist, Gareth Jordaan, learning about monitoring shark bycatch in the pelagic longline fishery. They also got to meet turtle scientist Ryan Rambaran along with two of uShaka Sea World’s rescued turtles, a Green Turtle Wellington and Loggerhead Turtle, DJ. The chefs were in awe of the threats sea turtles face from fishing activity, as they faced new facts about our oceans. The chefs enjoyed some time snorkelling in the snorkel lagoon getting up close and personal with a variety of fish and sharks. It is through these connections with live animals that a concern for our ocean and all its animals is nurtured. We have no doubt that Chef Terror and Chef Freedom returned to Johannesburg inspired by the staff and animals at uShaka Marine World!

Presha Soogrim – Marine Educator South African Association for Marine Biological Research, Ushaka Sea World

Training at the Two Oceans Aquarium

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chef pic       Newsletter CT training

The Two Oceans Aquarium and WWF-SASSI have hosted a series of training workshops for the staff of restaurants who are embarking on sustainable seafood journeys of their own.

The workshop sets the scene by introducing restaurant staff to the issues surrounding unsustainable fishing practices – the impacts of overfishing, pollution, fishing techniques, etc. We then turned attention to solutions!

Attendees are then also tasked with looking at the menus of their own restaurants and finding the SASSI information about the seafood products they offer. To do this, attendees are given access to SASSI’s various consumer tools, such as the pocket guide, SMS tool (FISHMS) and (our favourite) the SASSI smartphone app. This works very well to illustrate how the SASSI tools work, and has equipped restaurant staff with the knowledge to encourage their respective franchises and customers to make use of these tools.

During February and March, three SASSI workshops were presented to 74 managers, chefs and waitrons from Ocean Basket, Sun International Hotels in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, and the Harbour House Restaurant Group. All are now equipped to make sustainable seafood decisions with the help of WWF SASSI!

Bianca Engel – Deputy Head of Education, Two Oceans Aquarium


Retailers Charting the Course

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The most recent WWF-SASSI consumer survey took place in June 2017, with over 1000 South African seafood consumers surveyed by an independent third party. This is one of the graphs showing what was found.

The most recent WWF-SASSI consumer survey took place in June 2017, with over 1000 South African seafood consumers surveyed by an independent third party. This is one of the graphs showing what was found.


Today, consumers in South Africa eat more seafood than ever before, making it the second most consumed protein after eggs. However, consumers have also become more aware about seafood sustainability as WWF-SASSI’s efforts to conscientise them to this issue have increased.

This in turn is driving participants to transform their seafood procurement approach which has resulted in an increasing amount of sustainable seafood being available on the market. This is visible from the increase in participants’ overall commitments to sustainable seafood reflected in the 2017 Retailer/ Supplier Participation Scheme Report “Charting the Course”.

In order to do this participants have needed to find ways to incentivise transformation of the fisheries and farms where the unsustainable species are coming from.

Many participants are in the process of implementing consistent procurement strategies for products such as canned tuna, prawns and salmon (wild-caught and farmed) to ensure their suppliers are implementing best practice in the supply chain and supporting fisheries and suppliers that are working towards more environmentally responsible practices. Some participants have even progressed to a stage where they have MSC certified canned tuna, ASC certified Atlantic (farmed) salmon and/ or ASC certified prawns on their shelves, a significant positive shift for the South African seafood market.

Calamari, however, remains a challenge – especially considering that appears to be the second most consumed seafood in South Africa. While many of the squid species harvested and the fishing methods used to target squid are considered sustainable, there are some that are key to many participants that are on the WWF-SASSI Orange-list due to uncertainties regarding the extent of fishing pressure on the stocks from illegal, unregulated, unreported (IUU) vessels.

One of the ways to change this is to put pressure on suppliers and importers to drive supply chain transparency and to incentivise source fisheries to report catches and provide the level of information required to effectively manage squid stocks.

Challenges such as these may seem insurmountable at an individual company level, however, through effective collaboration participants can collectively drive the necessary positive change in fishing sectors that provide the seafood that consumers demand.

You can download the 2017  WWF-SASSI retailer /Supplier Participation Scheme Report here:

Stephanie Rainier – WWF-SASSI Retail Engagement Officer