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No more prawns for me (for now anyway)

July 12, 2015

I have been aware of the overfishing of our oceans for several years. I have considered myself a responsible consumer by only buying fish from the supermarket which falls into the WWF SASSI green classification. A lot of large retailers make it easy to identify the classification of the fish we buy by labelling and so I thought I was definitely making a difference by not supporting the fishing of threatened fish.

What I completely, and ridiculously, did not consider was fish I ordered on a menu. Some restaurants say they take the SASSI classifications into account and of course I believed them. However, what I learnt yesterday is the even though a restaurant is considering SASSI they are still not necessarily making the best choice. For example despite the fact that prawns are often farmed which may make them seem eco responsible the truth is, they are still in the orange band. That is a problem. As it turns out, a lot of prawns are still wild caught from tropical regions and this is where the trouble comes in. There is a major negative impact on the environment because of this wild catching. How can I be sure that the prawns I order in a restaurant are farmed? I could ask but the restaurant could lie. On top of this, a lot of prawns consumed in South Africa are imported, there is certainly an environmental impact there as well. So, until further notice I will not eat prawns, it is the only way to guarantee that my actions do not hurt the planet.

If you still want to eat prawns, or any sea food for that matter, please familiarise yourself with the SASSI List and know that what you are ordering is environmentally friendly. As consumers, we can change the way the environment is managed for our food. Supply and demand drives fishing activities, if enough people insist on sustainable fish then more will be done to protect the world’s oceans.

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