05 December, 2006

Choose the right seafood ...

Hngry 4 fsh?

WWF’s FishMS text line helps you choose the right seafood.

You can bank with it, play music, send text messages, browse online and even make calls. Now your cellphone can also help you make choices that limit your impact on our oceans.

A new tool from SASSI (The Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) helps you make informed choices about the fish you eat. Simply text the name of a fish to the number 079-499-8795 and you’ll immediately get a message telling you whether to tuck in, think twice or avoid completely. It’s called SASSI FishMS and it puts WWF’s knowledge of seafood resources at your thumb-tips.

The feature resulted from cooperation between The Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI), local IT company iVeri Payment Technology and developer Tony Seebregts. SASSI has condensed the research on the impact of fishing on fish stocks into guidelines available in a handy pocket card.

In laymen's terms this distils information on the status of local seafood species into one of three colour categories, much like a traffic light. Species marked with a green fish can generally be eaten with a clear conscience because their population numbers are healthy. Orange means they're legal to sell, but if you have a choice you should opt for one of the “green” species. Species marked in red are illegal to buy or sell in South Africa. Full details of how the classification system works are online at www.wwf.org.za/sassi

Now you can still make the right choice, even without the card. The more specific the query, the more detailed the information received.

Jaco Barendse, coordinator of SASSI, says: “Cellphones are the one common possession of everyone from surfers to stockbrokers, taxi drivers to taxidermists - even my dad has one.

“That’s why this is the ideal way to combine technology and information with the variety of seafood available and the growing awareness among seafood lovers, chefs, food buyers and so on that the oceans’ resources aren’t infinite.”

He adds that the system not only helps consumers make informed choices, but demonstrates to retailers and restaurateurs that those consumers are willing to use their spending power.

“When shoppers and restaurant patrons start texting to check whether the Catch of the Day is okay to eat, it’ll hopefully help drive suppliers’ buying habits.”

SASSI is funded by The Green Trust (a partnership between WWF-SA and Nedbank),

“We believe SASSI FishMS provides consumers and anyone else working with fish with a handy and extremely cool tool to help choose fish from healthy populations and relieve the pressure on overexploited species. By giving them a break their populations can recover and they can once again become more widely available.

“By not buying fish caught and sold illegally you can help to fight unsustainable environmental practice. Your choices can help ensure the sustainable use of our marine resources.”

SASSI FishMS is charged at standard text message rates.

SASSI partners
SASSI was initiated in November 2004 in order to inform and educate all participants in the seafood trade, from wholesalers to restaurateurs through to seafood lovers. The initiative builds on an earlier project started in KwaZulu-Natal which sought to educate restaurant dealers about marine conservation issues. It has The Green Trust and the South African Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism (DEAT) as primary funding/support partners, and Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, Two Oceans Aquarium, TRAFFIC, Sea World at uShaka, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, The South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), and Bayworld as implementing partners.

About The Green Trust
Celebrating 15 years last October, The Green Trust is a partnership between WWF-South Africa, the conservation organisation, and Nedbank. This innovative trust has been cited as a hugely successful mutual-benefit partnership internationally and has raised over R70 million for conservation. It’s funded and supported over 140 sustainable conservation projects that have covered a significant range and diversity of environmental interventions, with a significant focus on community-based conservation and species of special concern.

About Nedbank Green Affinity
The Nedbank Green Affinity is a range of bank accounts that allow you to do your daily banking whilst at the same time helping conservation in South Africa. It includes a credit card, a savings account and a chequebook. When you use your Green Affinity bank account, Nedbank donates to The Green Trust. In the last 15 years Nedbank and the Green Affinity clients have helped raise nearly R70 million for conservation.

For more information contact
Jaco Barendse
Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI)
+27 (0)21 402-3423
+27 (0)21 421-7406
+ 27 82-511-6368

Issued by
William Smook
Meropa Communications
+ 27 21 683-6464
+27 83 357 2837

Caption: Interactive technology like SASSI FishMS, which gives consumers instant access to information about which fish to buy could help accelerate the trend toward responsible consumerism.