SA chefs fish for change

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Vanessa Marx, head chef at Dear Me restaurant in the Cape Town CBD, is one of the chefs involved in a new WWF campaign. Picture: Jason Boud

Cape Town - Local chefs have teamed up with conservation NGO WWF-SA to raise awareness around declining fish stocks by encouraging people to be more aware of the status of the fish they eat.

WWF Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative manager Janine Basson said the campaign was launched in response to the state of local fisheries.

“Almost 80 percent of key South African linefish species are overexploited or their populations have collapsed,” Basson said.

“Some household favourites such as Cape salmon/geelbek have collapsed, and kob/kabeljou is at less than 20 percent of its pre-fished populations. We knew we had to act immediately to galvanise the public into helping us make the right decisions.”

The listing guidelines are as follows:

l Green-listed – best choice from the most sustainable and responsibly managed fisheries.

l Orange listed – think twice because there are some concerns either relating to the stock status or the fishing method/management of the fishery.

l Red-listed – should be avoided completely/don’t buy because it comes from an unsustainable source.

Basson said latest research showed that hake, prawns, calamari and kingklip were some of the more popular fish with South Africans, and of those species only calamari was fully on the green list.

She explained that hake was green-listed if it was trawled and orange-listed if it was longlined.

Basson said this is why they teamed up with local chefs – including Vanessa Marx, head chef at Dear Me restaurant, and Stefan Marais, of Societi Bistro – to work with WWF throughout November to help encourage consumers to exercise green choices when it came to seafood.

The chefs will be featured on the SABC 3 show, Expresso, every Thursday morning in November where they will be showcasing old favourite recipes, traditionally made with unsustainable fish, revamped with green-listed sustainable options.

Marx said she tried to serve sustainably farmed food at her restaurant as often as possible and that the response had been mostly positive.

She said she did not serve fish that was orange or red listed at her restaurant. “I do not serve kingklip or prawns. For example, I make a green mussel curry instead of a prawn curry.”

Visit www.wwfsassi.co.za for the full fish list. - Cape Argus

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