All posts by Kirtanya Lutchminarayan

New SASSI Fish ID App launched for National Marine Month 2021

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October marked National Marine Month and something exciting has been brewing at the SASSI Headquarters. If you have ever had difficulty identifying the species of the seafood at your local fish counter, we have an answer for you. Our new FishID app is a seafood identification system in the palm of your hand. This new SASSI tool will make identifying your favourite sustainable seafood species much easier. All you need to do is scan the fish top to tail at a fish counter and the app will do the work for you. The app currently only identifies a limited list of species & improves as more images are submitted by ocean champions like you.

Download the app by searching “SASSI FishID” in your Appstore or click here for Android:

And here for iOS:

The species currently identifiable by SASSI FishID are as follows:


Atlantic salmon

Black musselcracker


Blood snapper

Blue Swimming Crab

Blue shark

Brindle bass rock cod

Bronze bream

Cape Stumpnose

Common smooth-hound shark





Great white shark




King fish






Natal Stumpnose

New Zealand Ling



Potato bass rock cod


Rainbow trout

Red Drum

Red Stumpnose


River snapper


Shortfin mako shark


Soupfin shark

Spotted grunter



Striped catshark



Twineye skate

White steenbras

White stumpnose

Yellow-belly rock cod


Yellowtail amberjack




Choose green for the penguins

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The Penguin Town Netflix docu-series followed the struggles and triumphs of the Boulders penguin breeding colony in Simon’s Town. Every year, 2500 African penguins gather here. Their mission: find a mate, make babies and not go extinct! But did you know, 95% of the world’s African penguins have already disappeared (and the numbers keep dropping every year)?

This is a result of:

✔️Lack of availability of their preferred prey: pelagic fish like sardines and anchovy. 🎣

​​✔️Climate change 🌊

​​✔️Oiling events 🛢️

✔️Predation 🐱🦭

Did you know that these penguins are classified as endangered by the IUCN, and their numbers decrease by an alarming rate of 5% each year? We really need decision-makers to listen to the science and act to manage fisheries better, and expand marine protected areas. You can help by making informed seafood choices with SASSI – choose green to #SavetheAfricanPenguin

WWF debut a special panel discussion on the plight of the African penguin, moderated by Oscar winner Pippa Ehrlich (of My Octopus Teacher. and Sea Change Project ). This included members of SANCCOB saves seabirds, Red Rock Films and Pavitray Pillay and Craig Smith of WWF South Africa on how to save the African penguin.

Click here to watch the full discussion.

Know Your Fish – World Oceans Day 2021

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World Oceans Day on 8 June attracted ocean champions with arty prizes, when they downloaded and screenshot the SASSI app. Read your labels and #knowyourfish was the order of the day 🐠 as we asked “What’s on your plate?” Sometimes you think you know, sometimes you take things at face value. But as always, the fine print always reveals the catch – literally. If you look at your crabstick boxes you will see that this is made of hake, not crab. On menus you may see ‘salmon trout’ (actually rainbow trout). Salmon is orange listed, whilst trout is green listed. There is no such thing as salmon trout! Trout is actually a great green listed alternative to salmon. If you look at your seafood packaging you will learn that haddock is in fact smoked hake. It all comes down to knowing your fish and reading labels, to truly know what’s on your plate.

When you choose green you are making a decision to help our oceans! Using the SASSI app to make green listed choices means you protecting endangered, threatened and protected species, and that species in trouble are able to recover. We are hopeful about a bountiful future. We are taking action for the oceans. Are you?

Choose local seafood to combat climate change!

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One way to be a climate hero is by checking the SASSI list and making a sustainable seafood choice. This is in line with 4 principles that actually govern the 26th COP (Conference of the Parties) summit that will bring states together to accelerate action towards Climate Change. These are:

Encourage healthy living; Encourage more sustainable behaviour; Promote the use of responsible sources and responsible use of resources throughout the supply chain; Leave a positive legacy

The best you can do to combat climate change effects is to choose local seafood!

Did you know that choosing certain seafood 🐠 over others can satisfy the palate and also help reduce climate impacts? The where and how of fish matters!

⛽ Seafood’s carbon footprint is mostly affected by fuel consumption. For example, a large boat 🛳 traveling the high seas to catch a migratory species is going to burn a lot more fuel than a small boat 🛥 traveling less distance to catch a local species.

📍Where the seafood is processed also can increase its carbon footprint. Even if caught without much travel, shipping seafood for foreign processing and then importing it for sale can skyrocket fuel and energy consumption, leading to higher emission rates 🏭

The tools used to catch seafood can also have variable climate impacts. Purse seines – large nets that can be drawn closed, like a bag – have among the smallest carbon footprints of capture methods. Opting for locally caught and processed seafood can be one of the best ways to combat the high fuel consumption resulting from foreign catch and processing.

🐟Small, lower trophic, pelagic species (those at the near bottom of the food chain) like anchovies & herring have much lower carbon footprints.

Read more here from Yale!

Lockdown lessons from South Africa’s fisheries: Building resilience in small-scale fishing communities

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The WWF South Africa Marine Team has been working with the Fish forward 2 Project and the latest study looked at the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 on South African fisheries with a focus on small-scale fisheries.

Individuals in the supply chain as well as small scale fishers in coastal communities across 4 coastal provinces were interviewed about socio-economic conditions before the pandemic, during the first hard lockdown, when lockdown restrictions were relaxed and finally when restrictions were reimplemented during the second wave.

The study found that the industrial fishing sector which had greater access to finances, networks and other resources was better able to absorb the stressors and shocks of last year’s lockdowns. But sadly, the same cannot be said about the small-scale fisheries sector. Small-scale fishers had difficulty adapting to the sudden changes and limitations in operations brought about by the various phases of the lockdown. These impacts were also not equal: small-scale fisheries in some coastal provinces faced more devastating impacts than others.

Fortunately, formally recognised fishers were seen as providing an essential service and awarded permits to fish during lockdown. But still, there were instances where they were prevented from fishing. Fishers who were not formally recognised could only operate using a recreational permit, yet recreational fishing was prohibited during the “hard” lockdown. As a result, many fishers suffered a shortage of seafood protein and food.

The Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdown amplified pre-existing vulnerabilities of small-scale fishers. Many are still excluded from formal supply chains and the inequities and inequalities of the past have not been fully addressed. Fishers still need to be adequately empowered and capacitated!

But not all is doom and gloom as light at the end of the tunnel is emerging through functional co-operatives helping fishers navigate these sudden shocks by building resilience in small-scale fishing communities.

Download the 2021 report here

Written by Monica Stassen, Marine Scientist at WWF South Africa




The Global Ocean Agenda

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As time passes, the ocean agenda moves forward in climate discussions. The Paris Agreement was a turning point, and from COP21 onward, there has been an increased interest for the ocean.

🐟Knowledge and science on the ocean-climate interactions are growing and the IPCC Reports on the 1.5°C increase and impacts on our Ocean

🐟National engagement: The ocean is now increasingly considered in climate policies

🐟Mobilization and awareness raising is on the increase

🐟Policy mainstreaming for ocean resilience is underway

The theme of the next CBD COP 15 conference is “Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth”. Here, the Convention on Biological Diversity  is set to review the achievement and delivery of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. This aims to also extend beyond 2020 with a global biodiversity framework that includes a target to conserve 30% of the ocean by 2030! For more, see this link:

WWF-SASSI: Our role, our science and our journey

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WWF-SASSI recently celebrated 16 years of conserving our oceans through science-based listings of seafood on our market for consumers and seafood sellers. It has been a long road and not an easy one at that, with constant improvements and changes along the way. SASSI is powered by a small team of passionate marine biologists, skilled science communicators and well-known environmental scientists.

The Science of WWF-SASSI

The foundation that underpins the WWFSASSI list is called the Common Assessment Methodology, that is used internationally to inform their seafood guides and enable consumers. WWF-SA is part of a global network database that houses all the international assessments, which are peer-reviewed by qualified fisheries and marine specialists. The WWF-SASSI assessments process is more rigorous  and has a far more in-depth stakeholder engagement process allowing for a greater opportunity to comment and engage. It is for this reason that local species assessment processes take over a year to complete! As the saying goes, good things take time. New species that appear on the list are assessed on an annual bases while species that are already on the list are re-assessed every 3years.  Annually our scientist meets with other experts (at universities and within government)  in the field to assess if new data on existing species are available that will ensure assessment is comprehensive.

WWF-SASSI always invites constructive input that is based on scientific information so we can ensure that assessments contain the most recent data and are an accurate representation of the fishery during that period. That being said an assessment is a “snapshot” of the (commercial) fishery during a very specific time period and are updated as regularly, to help you make the best choice when it comes to seafood.

WWF-SASSI assessment process for local species:

  1. A notification of intent to assess is sent out to all individuals listed on the SASSI Assessment email list and SANCOR. Individuals have 30 days to comment and submit any information they feel is relevant. ANYONE can request to view and comment on an assessment!
  2. The assessments are drafted and then sent to the members of the Scientific Working Group of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, various research institutes such as SANBI, SAEON and ORI and universities for comment.
  3. The DRAFT assessment outcomes are released to the public. Individuals have 30 days to request copies of the assessment and submit comments. It is recommended that comments be substantiated with either peer-reviewed scientific papers, official reports or research reports.
  4. After the 30-day comment periods the SASSI External Review Panel meets. The review panel is made up of specialist scientists from a range of backgrounds. The purpose of the panel is to review submitted comments and ensure that the assessments are consistent across fisheries.
  5. After the panel meeting the assessments are finalized and notification of the FINAL OUTCOME is released with a 60-day transition period

Ecological concerns and Human Dimensions

WWF-SASSI is a voluntary compliance programme to empower individuals to choose more ecologically sustainable options when it comes to seafood. The choice we advocate for is green or seafood that carries a best practice certification that WWF and WWF-SASSI supports. For an Orange listing we ask you to think twice before purchasing and the recommendation for the red list is don’t buy, as these species are under serious conservation concern. WWF-SASSI like the broader WWF marine programme is based on an Ecosystem Approach to fisheries Management and hence provides information on the ecological suitability of a species. Unfortunately, this means that no matter who catches a red listed species, the conservation status of that species still remains red. The WWF South Africa marine programme does however work closely with the Fisheries and Oceans and Coasts branched in the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and the Environment and other NGO’s to address concerns around important small-scale fisheries, and are working with two coastal fishing communities in the Overberg and the Eastern Cape.

Over the last three years as part of a Global WWF project, Fish Forward 2, WWF-SA has tested a range of possible approaches to address the gap between ecological concerns and the human dimensions in fisheries. To ensure that the process was more inclusive, coastal communities along the coast were consulted and their input added to the project. The project is still underway and scheduled to be completed later this year, after which the assessment process will start integrating a human dimension element into the assessment.


The role of the government vs WWF-SASSI voluntary compliance

The government is mandated with the difficult task of managing our marine resources balancing conservation needs and socio-economic considerations both in the present and in the future. To assist in this decision-making process the department works with scientists and consultants to analyse and provide information on the status of fish stocks which is used to either calculate how much can be caught or how many fishers can operate in that sector. NGOs, fishing industry representatives and other specialist scientists are often invited to participate in meetings as observers.  WWF is one conservation NGO that is part of this, and our work is grounded on conservation principles both in the short term and in the long term. WWF wants to see a future for both people and nature to thrive. This sometimes involves precautionary management decisions in the short-term that are not ideal economically but aim to ensure there are fish to be caught and livelihoods can be maintained in the future.


Seas of Possibility: WWF-SASSI Annual Retailer & Supplier Participation Report

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The WWF-SASSI Retailer/Supplier Participation scheme continues to grow both in relevance and in the number of participants, working with 10 of South Africa’s leading retailers and suppliers of seafood! As the participants work toward achieving their public commitments to seafood sustainability, the WWF-SASSI programme facilitates collaborative efforts to address key seafood sustainability challenges facing the sector. You can download the latest report of the scheme, Seas of Possibilities which fosters collaboration for healthy and productive oceans.

Strong collective collaborations will ensure that a strong market driver for fisheries and aquaculture operations to improve and employ best practices continues. Participants are encouraged to advocate for better management practices, both locally and internationally, as there is significant scope for fisheries improvement.  Of importance, is a greater emphasis on ecological interactivity, ecosystem impacts of fishing and social-ecological interactions. In order to comprehensively address these challenges, transformational changes and joint action are needed across the seafood supply chain. One success story has been the participants-led engagement with the Namibian Hake association in 2015 requesting improvements in the fishery, culminating in the fishery being certified against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for wild-caught seafood. Similar pressure can be used to drive more aquaculture operations to aim for and achieve Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification along with chain of custody certifications.

The retailer/supplier participation scheme will transition to a more collaborative approach with the formation of the seafood alliance. The alliance will collectively address challenges such as mislabelling, transparency and traceability that will significantly curtail Illegal, Unreported & Unregulated fishing activities. The annual MSC & WWF-SASSI Sustainable Seafood Symposium in May also aids to optimise these efforts among key stakeholders in the industry.

These are necessary steps that we are part of driving to optimise sustainability through collective collaboration in South Africa’s seas of possibilities.

Amir Rezaei, WWF-SASSI Market Transformation Officer


Eastern Cape launch of WWF climate resilience work with coastal communities

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On the 30th of March 2021, representatives from various government departments, the private sector, NGO’s and members of the Hamburg community participated in the inception workshop to mark the formal launching of the project titled “building resilience of coastal communities, ecosystems and small-scale fishers’’. Launched at WWF’s new Hamburg Office in the Eastern Cape, the project funded by the Government of Flanders, will be jointly implemented by WWF-SA, ABALOBI and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The workshop served as a platform for the project partners to announce their plans and invite inputs from members of the Hamburg community and key stakeholders on which the success of this project will depend. A detailed implementation plan which will soon be produced by the project’s technical working team.

A total number of 44 people filled the WWF office while 24 others participated virtually in order to observe the protocols and regulations of COVID-19. More than 20 organisations were presented including representatives from Ngqushwa Local Municipality, Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (DFFE), Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA), Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT), Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR), South African National Parks (SANParks), Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) , Indalo Inclusive and research institutions such as Rhodes University, University of Fort Hare, South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) and South African Environment Observation Network (SAEON).

The much needed project aims at building climate resilience of coastal communities, ecosystems and small-scale fishers through the implementation of community and ecosystem-based adaptation activities (EBAs) and the diversification of livelihoods. In addition to this, a community-based citizen science research project will also be rolled out with these communities as well as the ABALOBI mobile phone applications. The project will take place in the Kogelberg region (Western Cape) and Hamburg (Eastern Cape) and we excited to embark on this journey! For more information on the project, feel to contact Junaid Francis at

Nangamso Thole, Community Liaison Officer – WWF South Africa Marine Programme

Sustainable Seafood Recipe – Haddock & Potato Rosti

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Did you know that Haddock, in South Africa is in fact smoked Hake? Well now you do! Here is a delectable recipe generously provided by Cooking With Claire

Haddock & Potato Rosti

Ingredients: recipe

  • Potatoes (washed, peeled & grated)
  • Haddock (fresh from F4A)
  • Parmesan
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • Chives


  1. Prepare the potatoes by washing, peeling and grating them. Once grated, squeeze out and discard any access liquid in the potato. The potatoes must be dry. Place in a mixing bowl.
  2. To the bowl of grated potato, add small pieces (cut/flaked) of uncooked haddock. It doesn’t need to be pre-cooked as it will cook sufficiently with the potatoes. Season with pepper, onion powder and chives. Add grated Parmesan. Mix together.
  3. In a small pan, melt butter or add oil. Add in the haddock and potato mixture, ensuring the entire pan is covered. Pat down to form a rosti.
  4. NB: There are two ways to ensure the rosti is crispy on both sides (as a rosti should be). The first way is to flip the rosti after approximately 10 minutes of cooking, for this to work properly you’ll need to ensure you previously used LOTS of butter/oil so that it doesn’t stick to the pan. Alternatively, (and perhaps less intimidating) you can prepare the rosti in an oven proof pan. Once it’s cooked on the stove top for 10 minutes, pop it into the oven on grill to crisp the top part.
  5. Once you are satisfied with the level of rosti crispiness, remove the rosti from the pan and place onto the serving dish of your choice.
  6. Top with wilted baby spinach, a delicious poached egg and Parmesan shavings for a perfectly balanced brunch.


– Serve warm and enjoy with a cappuccino or mimosa!

– Be cautious when seasoning with salt as haddock and Parmesan add a salty flavour already.

– The rosti can be made in a larger size and cut into slices for serving larger groups. r