Category Archives: News

West Coast Rock Lobster is now RED LISTED

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Dear SASSI community,

WWF-SASSI has finalised the WWF-SASSI assessment for West Coast Rock Lobster for inclusion onto the WWF-SASSI list and consumer tools.

The SANCOR community and the public were provided extensive opportunity to comment on the draft assessment per the WWF-SASSI notifications to the SANCOR community and WWF-SASSI stakeholders on the 8th November 2016. WWF-SASSI has now completed the review process, incorporating public comments and an external review process for this species. The public, including interested and affected parties, are hereby notified of the final assessment outcome listed below.

Due to urgent action being required to raise public awareness of the dire state of the WCRL resource, the WWF-SASSI WCRL assessment was incorporated onto the WWF-SASSI website and the WWF-SASSI app, the physical WWF-SASSI consumer facing materials (pocket card and poster) will be updated in February 2017.

For further information, visit the WWF-SASSI website (, and/or send us a message at Thank you for your support and participation in the WWF-SASSI assessment process!


:: WWF-SASSI (Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative)::

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P.O.Box 23273

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Tel: +27 21 657 6600

Fax: 086 535 9433 Email:


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Pots, traps, hoops West Coast rock lobster (Jasus lalandii) Red

Marine Week launch of the WWF-SA Oceans Economy Report

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Amidst an audience of over 132 distinguished guest, several journalists and keynote speaker Mr Trevor Manuel, WWF-South Africa in partnership with Pick’n Pay launched an exciting and comprehensive report on the South African’s ocean economy: facts and futures at the Two Oceanswwf-ocean-facts-and-futures-4pp Aquarium.

The report, which collates the findings of relevant research from across multiple sectors, offers a snapshot of the state of South Africa’s oceans in 2016. It highlights both the socioeconomic value of the goods and services provided by the ocean and some of the key ecological trends and indicators. The report’s ocean scorecard highlights that many of South Africa’s marine resources are currently overexploited, which results in a loss of potential food protein, livelihoods and income, as well the loss of the traditional fishing culture associated with South Africa’s coastal communities.

On the positive side, the report also showcases some of the best-practice solutions that WWF and others are implementing – such as the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Iniwwf-oceans-facts-and-future1pptiative (WWF-SASSI) campaign to encourage consumption of sustainably sourced seafood. As a result of consumer pressure, many of South Africa’s major retailers and seafood restaurant chains have set ambitious sustainability targets and, according to the report, are well on their way to meeting them. The report clears illustrates that marine ecosystems underpin human survival and development, from the air we breathe to the food we eat.

If you would like to download the report, please

Reality of Seabed Mining

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In 2012 and 2014, the Department of Mineral Resources granted three prospecting rights for marine phosphate to private companies.

These rights extend over a considerable portion of South Africa’s marine environment, together covering more than 150 000 km2, approximately 10% of our exclusive economic zone. Since prospecting rights are being granted there is every indication that marine mining will become a reality. The type of technology employed for seabed mining, Trailing Suction Hopper-Dredge (TSHD) has not been tested anywhere else in the world and is comparable to strip mining the sea floor at an alarming rate. This process creates a giant plume of toxic sediment that buries and smothers marine ecosystems.

Of critical concern, the socio-economic impacts of seabed mining have not been assessed. Finally, our current legal and governance framework is inadequate for dealing with bulk marine sediment mining. In response to these concerns, a group of organisations formed a coalition.

The Safeguard our Seabed main objective of the coalition is to pursue a moratorium, or ban, on bulk marine sediment mining in South Africa.


West Coast “Red” Lobster

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Beneath the waters off the western coast of South Africa, an epic struggle for survival is ongoing by one of South Africa’s most iconic marine species, the West Coast Rock Lobster (Jasus lalandii). This species, prized for its flavourful meat and relative ease of catching, is the subject of rampant, illegal fishing that is threatening the species’ very survival and the fishers who depend on it.  The team at WWF-SASSI is doing all it can to bring attention to the issue and work with stakeholders to turn the tide for the lobsters. WWF-SASSI released a draft red-listing for WCRL in 2016 because the resource is sitting precariously close to collapse.

As one of South Africa’s oldest and most important commercial fisheries, the WCRL fishery provides direct employment to an estimated 4 100 people and has an annual turnover of around R530 million. But, with stock levels currently sitting at 2.5% of their historical size, largely as a result of overfishing and increasing levels of illegal harvesting, there has been growing concern from all sides that the resource is facing a complete collapse unless we can change its current trajectory.

Against this backdrop, WWF South Africa (WWF-SA), the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and stakeholders have been collaborating on a Fisheries Conservation Project (FCP) for the WCRL fishery. The FCP aims to move the fishery back towards healthier stock levels and create the improvements needed to support a SASSI green listing in years to come.


Woolworths makes Waves

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wwbeachcleanupkznThe International Coastal Clean Up was a huge success for South African coastlines. This event sponsored by Woolworths South Africa, took place around the country on Saturday 17 September 2016. Scholars and volunteers as young as six years old braved the cold morning in Cape Town and Durban and tackled the mammoth task of how ridding the beaches of litter. In Durban, Woolworths teamed up with uShaka Marine World. and hosted over twenty schools with an overall coastal clean up team of five hundred people.

In Cape Town, SASSI, the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) and Plastics wwbeachcleanup1SA and were given a platform at this event to speak on sustainable seafood, eco-labelling and other marine issues. A huge congratulations to everyone involved!


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.