Monthly Archives: May 2020

WWF-SASSI Lockdown Diaries: Deep thoughts and creative solutions

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I believe I have just about read almost every (stress on almost) blog, article, commentary and/or opinion pieces on the COVID-19 pandemic and our current lockdown. These information tidbits covered topics on the biology of the virus, its impact on our health care system, local economies, global economies, big businesses, small business , food production and the plight of the most vulnerable. How you can help, how I can help, what government is doing, should be doing and can do?

People have wonderfully couched both the pandemic and lockdown as both a curse and a blessing, others have flipped it on its head and found the opportunities in it. Many have pointed out the silver linings amidst all the sadness and end with a final cling to hope that we will overcome and emerge stronger from it. Pieces on how to cope during the lockdown while working remotely, managing children, partners, spouses and pets have particularly fascinated me!

The trials and tribulations of dealing with kids (in, out and on top of zoom meetings), unrealistic work deadlines, unruly partnership demands, too much housework, crazy cooking sessions and downright devilish snack cravings have been superbly described and expounded on with candor and vivid honesty. But what about the person who is literally all alone during lockdown! This has been top of mind especially since I spent the three weeks alone.  Coping as a single person is very different and I have had to work on creative and novel (excuse the pun) ways of not losing my sanity. More importantly when I say being creative I don’t mean binge watching Netflix. I have found that a virtual book club is fabulous, virtual yoga classes are off the hook and forget online dating, try online dinners – all these have been a saving grace.  Finally, dealing with being alone in lockdown has taught me that meditation, dedication to routine and rediscovering the value of ones own company are some of the best coping mechanisms………along with good snacks and comfortable slacks!

Pavs Pillay: WWF-SASSI 

WWF-SASSI Lockdown Diaries: What do yoghurt tubs have to do with the ocean?

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Guess which tub has yoghurt?

Guess which tub has yoghurt?

Being on lockdown and working from home during these past few weeks has really forced me to adapt to the new norms. While I love cooking and baking to get my mind off from work and my eyes away from the screen, I also realised that I love yoghurt just as much. This means too much food, tubs of yoghurt and a lot of waste!

As an ocean lover, this really makes me cringe, as I know that much of the waste we generate can surely be reused! When I’m on my usual morning jogs, I see a lot of everyday objects floating in our rivers and seas, essentially littering the home of so many marine animals that I admire and work to protect. I purposefully use the word home and not habitat, because we can probably identify more with having a home. Now imagine wading through a plastic-filled lounge while trying to get to your next snack- To me, it’s the same with marine life. Just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. What we also don’t see is the microplastic that our larger pieces of plastic waste breaks down into, that are then unknowingly ingested by these animals.

This has spurred me to rather repurpose and reuse my yoghurt tubs to store my food instead of putting them in the garbage, or recycling. It’s these simple easy things that can make all the difference! When I think about it, I probably moaned as a child when I opened up our family’s ice cream containers and yoghurt tubs to find something else in them, but now I see the value and will laugh to myself every time I find myself doing the same.

Now to answer the question in the image caption, none of those tubs has yoghurt. They all contain my snacks, lunches and suppers. These tubs are also great for  DIY projects such as gardening, stationary holders or other storage. You could even paint and decorate them to your own preference!

During this lockdown, this is one way I have been helping in ensuring that my tubs are not going to the ocean, my favourite place that I eagerly await to enjoy once again.

Delsy Sifundza: WWF-SASSI

WWF-SASSI Lockdown Diaries: Each one Teach one

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You may be working remotely. You may feel all Zoomed out from virtual meetings. You may have returned home, where you’re missing friends and finding working conditions difficult. Or maybe you’ve stayed put and worry about your family. Perhaps you’re juggling your children’s educational needs as well as your own. You might have lost funding or your job. Whether you’re an athlete, student or teacher, you’re probably feeling anxious, sad and uncertain. These feelings are normal. Here’s my take on coping with COVID-19.

As a conservation scientist, I am re-energised by working in nature. Being on lockdown has meant that these bursts of energy and quiet time of reflection in nature are no longer a luxury I can afford. I consider myself to be one of the fortunate ones as I got to come home and spend this time with my parents. Bear in mind my folks are teachers, one being at an ex Model C school and the other at a government school. This basically translates to them using different methods to teach and work remotely. This proved as a monumental learning curve for all of us and in some ways served a greater purpose to learn more about the concerns and environments we each work in.

Although, there are times when they tend to baby me and forget I’m an independent working professional, I remind myself to be thankful in those moments. I find myself waking up and being thankful for one thing every day and this has shifted my mental state!

For now, I have been able to re-energise and find motivation from watching my parents serve and work so tirelessly to ensure our future generations are afforded the same opportunity I have been given, to one day be heard and seen.

Melisha Nagiah

COVID-19 and our relationship with nature: Insights from WWF International

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panda distanceThis COVID-19 pandemic is yet another manifestation of our dangerously unbalanced relationship with nature. If a zoonotic emerging infectious disease was to combine high transmission rates during the asymptomatic phase, like COVID-19, with higher fatality rates like with Ebola, the consequences would be devastating.

This global crisis has indeed highlighted the risks we are taking by degrading and destabilising nature and it has highlighted the fact that protecting nature and its amazing diversity of life, is protecting ourselves. Early into the COVID-19 crisis WWF released a brilliant report, that we recommend you read and share, initiated by WWF-Italy entitled: “The loss of nature and the rise of pandemics”.

This pandemic gives us license to push for systemic change

Our nature-based ‘health insurance’ policy should go broader. The drivers of wildlife trade and wild meat consumption, land use change, intensification of agriculture and livestock production are interacting in ways that amplify and accelerate the risk for an emerging infectious disease event.

To prevent future and even more catastrophic pandemics, WWF states that trade and consumption of high-risk wildlife should be highly regulated or eliminated, while also considering the distinction and needs of subsistence consumption required for communities from the Arctic first nations to the forest dependent indigenous communities around the world.

As we emerge from this crisis, we must embrace a just and green transition towards an economic model that values nature as the foundation for a healthy society and a thriving economy. This is our chance to put things right and rebalance our relationship with the planet. To call for nature-based solutions that enhance human health and safety. “The time has come to correct these design defects in our economic and corporate models”, says WWF International President, Pavan Sukhdev, in his latest blog.

Be sure to follow the links in this article for the full picture!

Kirtanya Lutchminarayan: WWF-SASSI

World Tuna Day Insights from WWF Global Tuna Leader

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World Tuna is celebrated on 2 May every year, and this year we are have valuable insight from WWF’s Global Tuna Leader, Marcel Kroese. Marcel is stationed with the Marine Programme at WWF-SA so we are lucky to have him in our midst!

You may or may not know that there are many different species of tuna that are consumed in South Africa. Five species are listed on the WWF-SASSI app and website, each having different sustainability statuses. Some species even appear on more than one colour list depending how they are caught and where they are from.

Although the end value of canned tuna accounts for billions of dollars, we will be the first to highlight that tuna fisheries are not just important economically and for food security but such marine megafauna (large-bodied organisms that weigh or exceed 45kg) in the ocean ecosystem are critical. Scientists reveal that megafauna affect ocean ecosystems by consuming large amounts of biomass; transporting nutrients within and between habitats via excretion; connecting ocean ecosystems via long-distance migration; and physically modifying habitats by way of their feeding, locomotion, and mortality.

Before we get into the situation of our tuna in South Africa it is important to know what we refer to by ‘stock’. Fish stocks are subpopulations of a particular species of fish, for which certain parameters (growth, recruitment, mortality and fishing mortality) are regarded as factors determining its dynamics. We can talk about a stock being healthy, and on the other hand some stocks that are not doing too well. Globally, 65% of the tuna stocks are at a healthy level of abundance, 17.5% are overfished and 17.5% are at an intermediate level, where the stock’s status is not apparent. In 2018 the global catch of major commercial tunas was 5.1 million tons, composed of 58% skipjack tuna, followed by yellowfin (29%), bigeye (8%) and albacore (4%). Bluefin tunas accounted for 1% of the global catch. Catches of tuna have almost doubled since the 1980’s, with the biggest increase in skipjack tuna catches. Most skipjack tuna are canned. Skipjack stocks contribute more than one half of the global catch of tunas and the most often overfished stocks are Bluefin, yellowfin and bigeye which results in 15% of the total tuna catch.

One of our favourite fish, the yellowfin tuna are caught and originate from the Indian Ocean, even when it is caught in Hout Bay! This is due to the feeding pattern of Yellowfin, which travel down the warm Agulhas current to the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately a red flag has been raised for this species in the Indian Ocean as stocks are predicted to decrease significantly. The impact of these catches are exacerbated by the use of Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) in the purse seine fisheries and scientists estimate that this could cause yellowfin stocks to crash as soon as 2027. This paints a bleak picture for yellowfin tuna with its high catches, in addition to the stock already being under considerable pressure.What’s worse is that juvenile yellowfin tuna often school together with the same size, but mature skipjack tuna, and both species are caught together. Skipjack tuna is currently facing a voluntary catch limit which is 30% higher than acceptable catch limits. This was noted in 2018 when the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) set the limit for the 2018 – 2020 management period.

In 2019, WWF and other conservation NGOs called for a firm yellowfin tuna rebuilding plan at the IOTC meeting in India. No heed was given to this request, despite retailers increasingly abandoning Indian Ocean yellowfin from their sourcing practices. The fishery responsible for much of the juvenile mortality – the skipjack FAD fishery, continues unabated.  In 2020 WWF will call for even stronger measures to protect the vital megafauna tuna stocks, that make such a valuable contribution to ocean health and mitigating climate change in the Indian ocean.

This will ensure that this loved species canned, seared or in sushi will continue to remain in our seas and on our plates


Cured hake croquette recipe from Trailblazer Chef Kyle Knight

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chef kyleKyle Knight, who is a chef and owner of The Shop restaurant, is one of our 2019 Trailblazer chefs. In case you missed it, WWF-SASSI celebrates top chefs annually by hosting a Trailblazer awards ceremony honoring chefs who actively champion sustainable seafood practices in their restaurants. Chef Kyle prides himself in selling sustainable and green-listed dishes in his restaurant and one of his favourite dishes to make is his Cured Hake croquettes. He has kindly shared it with us for you to use in your own kitchens! Recipe below:

Cured Hake croquettes


1kg firm fresh hake

500g coarse salt


1kg potatoes, peeled

Milk to cover

1x onion halved

2 bay leaves

5 pepper corns


2x cloves garlic chopped

1cm chilies (optional)

Olive oil


Cake Flour

6 whole eggs

Bread crumbs

  •  Lightly salt hake
  •  Rinse in cold water and soak in water for a further 12 hours.
  •  Poach in milk, with onion, bay and pepper corns, until cooked.
  •  Remove from milk, peel off skin and set aside.
  •  Boil peeled potatoes until soft and then mash.
  •  Lightly fry garlic and chilly until golden in olive oil.
  •  Add hake and potatoes and mix well until lovely and creamy.
  •  Allow to cool
  •  Roll into golf ball size balls
  •  Chill in fridge until firm
  •  Dust in flour then into whisked egg and then into bread crumbs
  •  Reserve in fridge until needed
  •  Fry in oil at 160 Celsius until golden.

Serve with petit salad and enjoy!

Delsy Sifundza: WWF-SASSI

Stay Home with SASSI

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Every crisis provides the opportunity to learn. The COVID-19 crisis is proof that South Africa is actively learning how to cope with an unseen enemy whilst still instilling hope into the many distraught hearts of the nation. Even if it is for a fleeting moment, this lockdown has the ability of sparking jolts of joy back into our lives by reconnecting with nature in the most simplest of ways.

WWF-SASSI hoped to do just that by spreading some much needed joy and inspiration with the launch of our social media lockdown campaign pegged #StayHomewithSASSI. WWF-SASSI Influencers, Ambassadors, Partners and Supporters shared different ways of practising sustainable lifestyle actions inspiring our fellow South Africans to follow suit whilst under lockdown. This campaign was aimed at inspiring sustainable actions with minimal effort at home: From learning how to cook up delicious sustainable seafood dishes to upcycling plastic waste into DIY eco-bricks and even growing your own food and composting leftovers. PS: you don’t even need a garden, a bucket will even suffice.

In times of crises we often find our minds wandering and we experience many different emotions. It is said that one small act can cause great change – we call this the butterfly effect. So if all you can do this lockdown is trade one activity to serve in the best interest for nature and for you – do it. You might just surprise yourself

Be encouraged this lockdown to be part of the positive impact. You can still make a difference and contribute to healthy oceans, a healthy planet and a healthy you!

To find out more on how to get creative and still take care of our planet from your homes, follow us at @wwfsassi on Facebook and Instagram! Take up the #StayHomeWithSASSI challenge and share your top tips with us! We may be locked down but nothing stops us from leveling up! Stay safe and stay healthy.

Melisha Nagiah 

WWF-SA working towards addressing social questions in SASSI assessments

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In the past we have written about the science of WWF-SASSI and what goes into the assessments before arriving at the sustainability status, but we have something new brewing. In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic that the world is currently facing, there is an increased urgency to achieve true sustainability addressing not only the environment but also the social and economic needs of people.

As you may know, the focus of the WWF-SASSI assessments has been on the ecological sustainability of fisheries, with only one broad question (on an ecosystem approach to fisheries management) which looks to incorporate human considerations. Over the last few years, WWF South Africa  (WWF-SA) has been challenged that the current WWF-SASSI assessments do not explicitly include any considerations of human dimensions such as local ecological knowledge, forced or unfair labour practices and food security challenges.

You can only imagine WWF SA’s excitement to join 17 other WWF offices around the world as part of the Fish Forward 2 Project. This aims to include human dimensions, and achieve behavior change of consumers and corporates based on increased awareness and knowledge of the implications of seafood consumption.  WWF-SA’s role in the project was twofold.

  1. Firstly, WWF-SA hosted a series of  engaging regional workshops with small-scale fishing communities on the WWF-SASSI assessment with focused discussions on local ecological knowledge and the key social issues facing them every day.
  2. The second component of the project was to look at how WWF can include these social issues into the WWF-SASSI assessments.

WWF SA is currently researching and trialing possible ways of including human dimensions into the existing sustainability process. Some of the key social components that WWF-SA are considering are quite important and include; access to resources, gender equality, child labour, forced labour, food security, co-management, economically self-sufficient and local ecological knowledge.

By researching and trialling this approach, WWF-SA is hoping to fill the gap between the ecological work that is currently being done and the missing social consideration to ultimately achieve true sustainability.

Monica Stassen & Delsy Sifundza: WWF-SASSI