As news breaks across the nation that the WWF South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) has officially red-listed West Coast rock lobster, South Africans from all walks of life are being implored to completely abstain from eating, buying or catching kreef this summer. The West Coast rock lobster (Jasus lalandii) is endangered: the most recent stock assessment indicates the stock is heavily depleted at only 2% of its pre-exploitation levels.
While the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has not yet changed its total allowable catch (TAC) limits or updated its regulations, WWF SASSI is nonetheless asking us, as consumers, to make the right choice. After all, it’s not just our holiday dinner tables that will be empty if this species disappears. Small-scale fishers in the Western Cape depend on the survival of the West Coast rock lobster for their livelihoods, and with poaching and illegal fishing of crayfish having quadrupled, the time to act is now.
In 2015, the Two Oceans Aquarium collections team came across an abandoned bag of more than 5 000 undersized West Coast rock lobster tails:
The West Coast rock lobster is one of South Africans’ favourite festive-season foods and is a very important part of the Western Cape’s recreational culture, too. But SASSI’s rigorous scientific assessments leave no doubts. Speaking with Radio 702 this morning, Pavitray Pillay, manager of the WWF SASSI programme, said: “Don’t buy [West Coast rock lobster], don’t eat it, don’t braai it, don’t catch it … Because it is in serious trouble.”
WWF SASSI is asking for voluntary compliance to the “no kreef” request. “It’s about doing your part to help with marine conservation,” said Pavitray on 702.
The SASSI traffic-light system – aimed at changing the hearts and minds of consumers, restaurateurs and retailers, has made great inroads since its inception in 2004.
Speaking at the launch of the WWF’s "Oceans Facts and Futures" report in October, Head of Environmental Programmes at WWF South Africa Theressa Franz highlighted the downward trend in the mislabelling of seafood in South Africa as evidence of the positive work done by SASSI. She also said that the ocean economy depends on in-tact, viable ecosystems – and that good governance is one of the missing links in making this a reality.
We know this is a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s time that we all make a sacrifice for the greater good.
Listen to Pavitray's interview with John Maytham below: