Oceans Advocates

Consumers are driving change towards sustainable oceans management in Africa

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Feature story - October 28, 2010
West African nations, like Mauritania and Senegal, have some of the richest fishing grounds in the world. However these reserves are being rapidly depleted by unsustainable fishing practices, often by foreign fishing fleets.


The good news, according to a new publication by Greenpeace, is that global consumer pressure is having a positive effect on fishing practices, driving retailers to adopt responsible seafood sourcing practices.

The result? Encouraging changes in the seafood industry.

Oceans Crime Scene

Greenpeace activists target "Red list" species by chaining freezer doors shut and locking up seafood in shopping carts on the first day of a campaign in Canada.

Now it seems that responsibly managed fish populations, caught in a way that doesn't deplete fish stocks, is no longer merely an option, but a major step forward for the entire seafood sector.

Main changes in the global seafood market

- Retailers have now started to provide greater detail about their products – on packaging, on labels at fish counters or as additional information provided by better-trained fish-counter staff. The overall increase in the transparency of seafood sourcing means customers can now make much more informed choices about the seafood they buy.

- Some of the most commercialy threattned species are being removed from the supermarkets shelves globally. Orange Roughy, sharks, bluefin tuna, skates and rays are examples of species that progressive retailers have commited not to sell.

- Retailers and producers with progressive seafood sourcing policies work closely with their suppliers to shift their procurement to more sustainable fisheries.

- Some retailers are expressing their concerns about the future of our oceans in their direct contact with politians. The increasing demand for sustainable seafood and the increase in press coverage of fishery issues has certainly been felt in the political halls.

The South African Context

In South Africa these changes have been accompanied by the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) which aims to shift consumer demand from over-exploited species to more sustainable species.

The initiative colour-codes fish species according to their abundance. Accordingly, "Green light" species, such as hake and yellowtail, have well-managed populations; "orange light" species, such as kingklip and kabeljou, face the possibility of over-fishing; and "red light" species, such as galjoen and white stumpnose, are protected and cannot be sold legally.



Download the Greenpeace "Oceans Advocates" report here.
Download the Greenpeace "How Africa is feeding Europe" report here.
Download a "SASSI Consumer Seafood Pocket Guide" (via SASSI) here.