Monthly Archives: May 2022

SASSI Officially included in South African Schools Curriculum

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When we speak to friends many of them say, “When I was little I always wanted to be a Marine Biologist”. Sounds familiar? Well the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation has been making dreams come true, and working hard to offer Marine Sciences as a subject in schools.  Their education team took it upon themselves to write a Marine Sciences curriculum which was approved by the South African Minister of Education in 2019. The subject has been successfully offered at a Grade 10 level at six pilot schools in the Western Cape province, and now rolling out to schools in other provinces. Students at these schools will be the first South Africans to write Marine Sciences as a Grade 12 Matric subject in 2022!

Russell Stevens is the Head of Education at the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation and has explained the following details: “Marine Sciences is now offered as an online course to interested students starting this year. Grade 10 students in 2021, from any province within South Africa, who have a real interest in the ocean. By arrangement with their school, such students may take the subject as one of their 7 Matric subjects or as an additional 8th Subject. This is also open to adults currently working in the Marine Tourism or similar workspace, inside or outside of South Africa.

Marine Sciences is made up of a range of topics, woven together in a transdisciplinary subject designed to educate students who have an interest in the ocean, its workings and the ocean’s influence on marine and land-based life. It is an ideal subject for those wishing to be employed in ocean-based industries after Matric or study further in the field of Marine Sciences.

It connects the realms of water, rocks, sediments, air, living organisms that inhabit the ocean, and their engagements with each other. It draws attention to ocean ecosystems and their sensitivity to human activity and resource use. Decision makers and the public need an increased awareness about the complex relationships that affect the ocean. The course will equip students with a thorough understanding, to think about ways to conserve and sustain the ocean for the future and is informed by the following four strands.” –

  1. Oceanography
  2. Marine Biology
  3. Ecology
  4. Humans and the Ocean

Sustainability is foregrounded in the teaching of the entire subject and WWF-SASSI and the sustainable seafood consumer message features multiple times throughout the course! We couldn’t be more thrilled.

 

Feb Be Wary: SASSI’s red list

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We believe that loving the ocean means acting in a way that protects it. Saying no to red listed species is one way we asked ocean lovers to show their love to the big blue for ‘Feb be wary’. Red-listed species include our national fish, galjoen and other national treasures like red stumpnose and red Steenbras. Not forgetting, blue swimming crab and the Japanese yellowtail amberjack often confused with our local yellowtail species. Here’s more on why these species are special.

Galjoen enjoy the security of staying in one place whilst only a small percentage are nomadic. This species is near threatened and is a no sale recreational species meaning that is illegal to sell or buy. Whilst recreational fisherman with a valid permit may catch them, it is illegal to sell their catch. As per the Responsible Angler Guidelines, recreational fishers are requested to not retain but rather tag and release this special species.

Yellowtail Amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata), often confused with local SA yellowtail (Seriola lalandi) is actually farmed in Japan. This species is red listed for cage farming in Japan as these cages are open to the ocean, waste (faeces, food, anti-fouling agents or medicine used to treat sea lice) is released directly into the surrounding water, chemically contaminating our ocean. This waste discharge and poor compliance with aquaculture regulations makes this species a no go in our books. Say no to Yellowtail Amberjack and opt for green listed, local and sustainable Yellowtail instead.

Red stumpnose, fondly known as Miss Lucy, is red listed for linefishing and inshore trawl. This majestic marine species has a steep forehead which, in males, become increasingly pronounced as they get older. Sadly, Miss Lucy is overfished and endangered. This means you have every reason to protect this fish and keep it off your dinner plate.

Red steenbras are a popular species amongst anglers because this fish is caught on just about any bait. This has meant that they are easily fished sadly earning them Endangered status. This red listed species is rated as a no-sale species within South Africa. Only recreational fishers with a permit may catch them following bag and size limits within season only. A no sale recreational species is one that is illegal to sell so rather tag and release these fish.

Blue swimming crab (Portunus pelagicus & Portunus trituberculatus) are very special creatures. Interesting behaviours of the male crabs include being more territorial in colder water. These species are caught using demersal trawl nets which may impact ETP species, i.e Endangered, Threatened or Protected species such as sharks, rays and turtles.

 

We protect what we love, and this should extend to our oceans too – say no to red listed species on your dinner plate. Loving our oceans means protecting them and allowing our marine life to thrive. The power is in your hands!

Diversity on our plates = Biodiversity in our oceans

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Diversity on our plates is part of the biodiversity solution. Seafood diversity on your plate helps with biodiversity in our oceans. By eating a variety of green listed fish, you are relieving the pressure on one species or one fishery.

Marine diversity strengthens the ocean ecosystems with each species playing a particular role, from producing food/nutrients and oxygen to reducing our carbon dioxide. This biodiversity includes worms, fish, sharks, whales, and even plankton and allows nature to be productive, resilient and adaptable to environmental changes. Fish, sharks, prawn species, like the much-loved turtles and whales also have the right to exist and thrive for their own sake. A healthy, functioning biodiverse ecosystem means the natural processes are working effectively, including those providing goods and services to humans, such as storing carbon or filtering water. The more biodiversity that becomes depleted, the less nature can provide the food, economic and cultural benefits it currently provides to humanity.

Some fishing methods result in marine species being vulnerable to bycatch? Bycatch – or unwanted catch – is one of the leading threats to marine biodiversity. These can be Endangered, Threatened or Protected (ETP) species such as special birds, sharks, rays and turtles. By choosing green , you may be saving a good few birds, turtles and sharks – just by caring what’s on your dinner plate!

Choosing sustainable seafood and saying no to red listed species will mean shifting demand off species that need to recover. This ensures that our oceans remain productive, resilient and adaptable for time to come.

Check the SASSI list to stay up to date on green listed species: https://wwfsassi.co.za/sassi-list/

Can you tell? The low down on canned seafood

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Sardines/pilchards, mackerel, salmon, tuna all have a story… You may be surprised to know that your canned seafood may not be the most sustainable seafood on the block. Reading the label is one way to know exactly what you are eating. It’s even better when retailers and brands label their products. You might find information such as:

What: The species of the fish (there are many types of tuna, sardines & mackerel…)

Where: the ocean/sea or place it was caught/farmed

How: What fishing/farming method was used

The humble sardine, also known as pilchards, is a popular South African favourite. Many tinned varieties are Sardina pichardus  i.e a European pilchard that is orange listed. South African sardines, Sardinops sagax are also orange listed. This means think twice- maybe leave it for the endangered African penguin, it’s their favourite food. These small pelagic fish have been struggling to recover and the low numbers has been concerning  especially on the West Coast.  You might also spot ‘Brisling sardines’ Sprattus spratyss, commonly known as sprat. This can be either green (best choice) or orange (think twice) depending on where it is from.

Tucking into a tinned tuna? In the South African market, we typically encounter 5 types of tuna: Albacore, bigeye tuna, bluefin tuna, skipjack tuna and yellowfin tuna. Most canned tuna is likely skipjack, most popularly caught in the South China Sea, off the coast of Thailand. Albacore tuna also found in jars may be a better option (green or orange listed). Search ‘tuna’ on the SASSI list to learn about this multi-faceted fish!

Mackerel, sometimes labelled explicitly and other times labelled as Middlecut, are caught in the north-eastern Atlantic Ocean. Scomber scombrus or Atlantic Mackerel is green listed when caught by purse seine & orange listed when trawled. Be sure to read your labels, consult the SASSI app and make a sustainable choice.

Last but not least on our list of canned seafood favourites is the famous, salmon. We know by now that salmon is orange listed 2 (think twice) and farmed in the Atlantic. (Sadly, not all farmed seafood is sustainable!) Good news -canned salmon steaks at selected retailers are labelled as ASC certified. This means it is certified sustainable  by Aquaculture Stewardship Council. Read your labels and remember that ASC is a sustainable choice when it comes to farmed seafood.

These determine the ecological sustainability status of a species. Always read your labels and consult the SASSI app/website to see whether the fish in your tin is truly sustainable: https://wwfsassi.co.za/sassi-list/

Kogelberg Marine Coastal Community Monitors shine in conservation through education

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For those of us wondering about the fate of our oceans, this story is sure to make you believe that our planet lies in capable hands.

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Morne Yon, Nomfusi Msitho & Robert Kyzer, three of the 13 Marine Coastal Community Monitors (MCCMs) shared their stories of how this group of young warriors have been working daily for just over two exciting years with WWF South Africa, based at the WWF Kogelberg Small Scale Fisheries Satellite Office. The group are all from the three Kogelberg fishing communities; Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay and Pringle Bay. Their backgrounds and characters are interestingly diverse, each having an inspiring, humbling story to tell – all who have been introduced to the environmental sector through this  project.

MCCMs have the primary role to monitor- come rain or shine! Their duties include monitoring for human activities, birds, mammals, litter, estuaries and animal mortalities along the coast. After a day’s work data is captured and they discuss any interesting finds such as active bird nesting sites and even sardine runs!

Conservation through Education

Since the MCCMs contract is an informal learnership focused on bolstering the fisheries compliance sector in the area, it is vital that they are academically equipped. As such, they have not only been diligently monitoring the Kogelberg, along the beautiful West Coast, but have been studying too, all while assisting with WWF conservation projects in the region. Contrary to the usual trend in ecotourism and fishing communities, there has been a noteworthy presence of female monitors! In the first year of their term the group began their academic journey by upgrading their matric results. In the second year twelve MCMMs participated in the Criminal Law Enforcement Programme (CLEP) which they passed with flying colours: a whopping 92%!. They are now hard at work studying for Higher Certificates in Criminal Justice – (HC:JC), registered with Nelson Mandela University.

Going above the call of duty

The MCCMs have gone above and beyond and shown their potential by taking up community leadership roles. This included assisting fishers with their Interim Relief (IR) permits application, on-boarding fishers onto the Abalobi Fisher App and liaising with fishers for the Baited Remote Unwater Videos (BRUVs). They were also instrumental in assisting their stakeholders, the Overstrand Municipality, CapeNature, the Department of Forestry Fisheries and Environment (DFFE), with community surveys, beach mortality removals, estuary water sampling and more.

This is just the beginning for our champion MCCMs who still have much to look forward to with upcoming trainings including firefighting, training with the Overstrand Wildfire Volunteers and some more skills-building up their sleeve, depending on their study schedules. Watch this space!

Morne Yon, Nomfusi Msitho & Robert Kyzer | Marine Coastal Community Monitors (MCCMs)

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