Fishing watchdog flags endangered red stumpnose on restaurant menus

10 April 2019 - 09:11 By Stender Von Oehsen
High-end restaurants in Cape Town are still offering red stumpnose on their menus, even though it appears on the SA Sustainable Seafood Initiative's "red list".
High-end restaurants in Cape Town are still offering red stumpnose on their menus, even though it appears on the SA Sustainable Seafood Initiative's "red list".
Image: SA Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity

Next time you eat at a fancy restaurant, look closely at the menu: if it offers red stumpnose, the SA Sustainable Seafood Initiative (Sassi) says you should avoid eating it at all costs.

The red stumpnose is red-listed by Sassi, meaning that fishing or eating it is a major conservation concern. It is considered an endangered species.

Yet restaurants in Cape Town are still serving the fish, which is native to Southern African waters.

“We have seen red stumpnose on menus in four or five restaurants in Cape Town alone,” said Pavitray Pillay, head of the WWF-Sassi programme. “And this is only where it has been brought to our attention.”

The red stumpnose is a slow-developing fish with a long lifespan that can reach up to 50 years. The species is found primarily in reefs, making it prone to overfishing with large nets or trawls.

There is no plan in place to help grow the population of the species, which makes the role of the local chefs and restaurant-goers even more important.

“Small actions by consumers and chefs can have far-reaching and lasting consequences, given all the pressures on our ocean resources. By making sustainable choices, we have the power to determine whether we have seafood on our plates and in our oceans now and into the future,” said Pillay.

Sassi plans to continue educating the public about the issue of overfishing and consuming endangered fish species. “We can help restaurants make informed decisions,” said Pillay.

She said the education begins by identifying the level of sustainability - the ability of a fish population to do well under fishing pressure - and traceability, which refers to how and where the fish was caught, for each species. If these levels are adequate, the species of fish is deemed good to eat.

Sassi provides a list of alternative fish for customers to order that are not red-listed.

“The fish that matters most is the one that is on your plate,” added Pillay. “Relieving just a little bit of the fishing pressure will allow fish like the red stumpnose to bounce back.”


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