In support of ocean-friendly seafood, I end up at a fishing village in South Africa.

I support ocean-friendly seafood. Do you?

Lucky Fish

Do you know that the world-wide demand for fish is increasing so rapidly,  that certain species in our oceans are being over-fished almost to extinction?

Do you know that 80% of the fish we eat in the United States is imported “to meet demand”?

According to the Montery Bay Aquarium

Scientists estimate we’ve removed as much as 90% of the large predatory fish such as shark, swordfish and cod from the world’s oceans. In 2003, the Pew Oceans Commission warned that the world’s oceans are in a state of “silent collapse,” threatening our current seafood supply and the health of our oceans.

The good news is it’s not too late

  • if all the fisheries improve their practice,
  • stop the overfishing,
  • the habitat damage,
  • and bycatch (accidentally catching unwanted species).

I find it disturbing to see how much food is thrown away at restaurants. If we made smaller portions of fish on our plates the new norm, we wouldn’t see the world’s dwindling supplies of seafood ending up in our garbage.

I have a Seafood Watch card “for the West Coast” from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which lists fish in three categories i.e

  • Green (best choices – abundant, well-managed, and caught in environmentally friendly ways),
  • Orange (good alternatives),
  • Red (AVOID)


At the supermarket on Monday I bought a package of frozen fish  identified as

wild-caught Hake from Namibia”

and  had the “Green sustainable source” logo on the package.


It wasn’t on the Seafood Watch card.  I looked it up:

Chilean Seabass Avoid: Avoid these products for now. These fish come from sources that are overfished or fished or farmed in ways that harm the environment. Antarctic Toothfish, Black Hake, Icefish, Patagonian Toothfish Southern Ocean Wild-caught
Offshore, Red, and Silver Hake Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Ling Hake, Squirrel Hake, Whiting U.S. Atlantic Wild-caught
White Hake Avoid: Avoid these products for now. These fish come from sources that are overfished or fished or farmed in ways that harm the environment. U.S. Atlantic Wild-caught

What did I buy? How do I know whether the Hake in my freezer is Red or Silver Hake which is okay; or whether it’s Black Hake also known as Chilean Seabass, or White Hake both of which are to be avoided?

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has depleted some populations of Chilean seabass. In addition, some Chilean Seabass is caught using unmodified bottom longlines, which hook and drown thousands of seabirds each year, most notably endangered albatross.

A portion of the Chilean seabass fishery is certified as sustainable to the standard of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). These certified fisheries are not evaluated in the Seafood Watch report and are not covered under the general “Avoid” recommendation.

Consumer Note: Consumers wishing to purchase MSC-certified Chilean seabass must be very careful. All restaurants and grocery stores that sell MSC products are required to have the MSC “Chain of Custody” certification. Legitimate purveyors should be able to produce this document when consumers ask. If the certificate is not available, assume the fish is not certified and don’t make the purchase.

Health Alert – Environmental Defense Fund has issued a consumption advisory for Chilean seabass due to high levels of mercury.


Kalk Bay, South Africa.

Life was so much simpler when you could go down to the docks to buy fish that just came off the fishing boats. I can’t buy fish from the fishermen anywhere near here, because the small fishing boats have been replaced by huge factory ships,   and it’s illegal for sports fishermen to sell their catch.

Kalk Bay fish market


When we were in South Africa we enjoyed the simple pleasure of purchasing fish from the fishermen at the small fishing village of Kalk Bay, south of Cape Town.



I cannot imagine fresh fish being sold on the ground – even if the floor is clean – in North America, but over here it was quite acceptable.

fish displayed on the ground

"That's a very nice fresh fish," he said pointing to it.

"Snoek" drying on strings blowing in the wind

Throwing the catch of snoek ashore.

A fisherman throwing snoek off the boat.

Two fresh fish.


One of my favorite meals is fresh fish and chips.

In Kalk Bay if  you feel peckish after buying your fish, walk across the car park to Kalky’s, a little fish and chip shack at the dock.

Diane's snoek and chips


The fresh snoek and chips we ate there was darn near the best I’ve ever eaten.

I end off with a slide show with additional photos …

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
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21 Responses to In support of ocean-friendly seafood, I end up at a fishing village in South Africa.

  1. hey, man, what a great story! i’m eating more fish than ever (not touching any other animal flesh, not for moral reasons but because my body won’t tolerate it – interesting, wot?). usually buy mine at whole foods, which i trust will give me the straight goods on what’s sustainable. hope so! also wondering if i could live on fruits and nuts for the rest of my life and leave the wee fishies be… but if you follow that line of thinking i’m sure someone would like to eat the walnuts and blueberries i love, too, eh, madam squirrel with a family to feed? i’ll eat killarney fish and chips this october and think fondly of our holidays there (and more to come!) xoxo

    • dearrosie says:

      hey Julia
      What I wouldn’t do to have a wee bite of Killarney fish and chips, plus – and I’m being greedy I know – a good long whiff of the air up there…! Have some bites and whiffs for me, and take me with you next time. Do.

      Love your comment. We hope we’re being aware citizens by buying what we think is sustainable, but we have no bloody idea.

      You’re right that Walnuts and blueberries were being eaten by the squirrels long before we came along to these shores. So we should stop and ask them any time we take a bite, and make sure we aren’t being wasteful.

  2. Sybil says:

    Sadly, I doubt we’ll learn in time. We’re really messing up this planet.

  3. Reggie says:

    Thank you so much for a wonderful and thought-provoking post, Rosie.

    This is such a sore topic for us here in South Africa too; I stopped eating fish many years ago, because of the serious problems of overfishing, depletion of stocks, pollution of the oceans and the coastline, deeply flawed implementation of quota systems for subsistence fishermen, and excessive protection of huge fisheries. I am also very concerned about the rising levels of mercury and other heavy metals found in our fish and seafood.

    And I am furious, nay, livid, at all those nations (China, Taiwan, Japan, etc. etc. etc.) who have been blatantly trespassing into our territorial waters for decades, stealing ‘our’ fish. I don’t know how effective our SA Navy is at protecting our southern oceans, or whether this is even part of their responsibilities.

    I agree with Sybil – we are really messing up this planet with our selfishness, greed and lack of foresight.

    That said, I am really pleased you had such a great experience at Kalk Bay harbour (on the False Bay or Indian Ocean side), and that you liked the snoek and chips! 🙂 Incidentally, Hout Bay harbour on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Cape Peninsula is also a well-known and much-loved destination for visitors who want the whole ‘fish caught fresh from the sea’ experience. 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      Thank you for you thought provoking comment Reggie.

      My wistful longings for living near False Bay where I could eat real wild caught fresh fish, are thrown right back in my face when I hear from someone like you who has stopped eating fish, because of problems I thought were only found in North America.

      I didn’t realize that even in a country like South Africa, the large fisheries were being favored over the small fishermen, or that nations like China, Taiwan, Japan have been “stealing your fish” in your territorial waters.

      We went to Kalk Bay because it was closest to Simons Town, but though we didn’t get to the fish market at Hout Bay, we had a marvellous seafood dinner there one evening…. if I close my eyes can still taste it…

  4. E fullstop says:

    Excellent post, Ro! The issues surrounding sourcing fish are even more complex than those surrounding meat from land and air animals. I agree with Reggie, and it’s these complexities that drove me to give up seafood years ago after giving up all other meat back in 2000. Well, it was the environmental and health implications combined with the realization that my survival is not dependent on eating fish, but the fish’s survival certainly is dependent on me NOT eating them!

    If we had access to low-volume, wild-caught operations like the ones you enjoyed in SA here in LA, perhaps it would be a different story for me. But I’m pretty content living off a diet that draws its energy as closely from the sun as possible. What a complicated world we’ve created for ourselves!

    • dearrosie says:

      I respect your decision to give up meat and fish E fullstop. I hope yours isn’t a lone voice out there. If more of us were respectful of what we ate there wouldn’t be an overfishing problem, and the rain-forests wouldn’t have been cut down for our hamburgers…

      But it’s not too late. I hope more people think about what you eloquently expressed especially:
      “my survival is not dependent on eating fish, but the fish’s survival certainly is dependent on me NOT eating them!”

  5. Mahalia says:

    oh, what a muddly puddle! another big issue here is economics, of course. who can afford to eat the clean, safe fish? who can only access what is cheaper and available at their local supermarket? who can’t make a living from the sea anymore bc of overfishing and where are all those fish ending up? oh, and land rights comes into play, too.

    i bought cod the other day, because it was all that i had to choose from in the supermarket other than farmed salmon, which we don’t buy. i was hoping it was on the “fair” part of the list. sorry, cod. you were very tasty.

    thanks for sharing your stories, and lovely pics and reminding us to use our safe seafood guideline cards!

    • dearrosie says:

      “Muddly puddle’s” a great expression 🙂
      Thank you for reminding us how it always comes down to economics: not many of us can afford to eat clean, safe fish, or organic fruit and veggies, not many of us can make a living from the sea because of overfishing,
      sometimes we have to buy the cod, because the alternative option is not an option…

      But the good news is you have a safe seafood guide card, and are thinking of the fish you buy.

      I’m glad you liked my pictures.

  6. Bubo Capensis says:

    I think I may have a solution (hint: Soooooup, Glorious Soup):

  7. Cindy says:

    My home in Cape Town is close enough to Kalk Bay that I can cycle there to buy my fish. Your photos have made me very homesick.

  8. souldipper says:

    Rosie, I’m impressed with your efforts to impact the over-fishing routines. Aren’t we something, we greedy, wasteful and over-indulgent humans? We do have to change our thinking. One blog at a time?

  9. What a great, thoughtful and thorough post! I got totally into the whole sustainable seafood movement too — and support Oceana and carry around the list from Monterey Aquarium .. BUT now it’s all on apps … so i can do it even more efficiently on my i-phone! I’m not that big of a fan of seafood (I don’t eat any shellfish) — but I do like eating it when I go out, and I do think it’s incredibly sad that we’re overfishing to the extent that we’ll wipe out whole populations. GREAT post, Rosie!!! xooxox b

  10. dearrosie says:

    Hey Betty,
    As I don’t have an i-Phone, I didn’t know the seafood guide’s available as an app. Of course… There really is NO excuse for anyone to buy fish on the AVOID list.

    I hope this little blog of mine will enlighten and encourage more people to do their small part to save the fishes… We have to spread the word if we want our grandchildren to also be able to enjoy a meal of fish and chips at a seaside village.

  11. Priya says:

    This is a great initiative, Rosie. I hope there are many, who read this and learn. As you say, it is not too late. The question is whether most listen to the “ifs”.

  12. dearrosie says:

    I’m glad to get your support Priya. Sometimes I feel we’re only talking to the “converted”. Wouldn’t it be great to get a comment from someone who had no idea that the supplies of sea food were rapidly diminishing, due to overfishing, but they are going to start being aware of what they eat.

  13. Pingback: An anniversary, an Aquarium, and a reminder | Wondering Rose

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