South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) | Western Cape Government

South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI)


The unsustainable harvest of the world's oceans has led to the depletion and, in some cases, collapse of many of the world's major fish stocks. While the outlook for many threatened marine ecosystems remain bleak in the face of unsustainable fishing practices, those involved in the seafood industry are realising that by changing the way they conduct business now, the long-term viability of their industry can be ensured.

While it may be the responsibility of the government to regulate and monitor fishing activities, it's also the duty of every seafood restaurant, retailer and consumer to support sustainable and responsible fishing practices.

In 2004, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) established the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) to inform and educate all participants in the seafood trade, from wholesalers to restaurateurs through to seafood lovers, about sustainable seafood.

By using a "traffic light" system, the colour-coded SASSI list categorises selected South African and imported seafood species according to their conservation status.


fishThis is the group from which consumers are encouraged to choose, as it contains the most sustainable choices from the healthiest and most well-managed populations. These species can handle current fishing pressure.


This group includes species that have associated reasons for concern, either because the species is depleted as a result of overfishing and can't sustain current fishing pressure, or the fishery that catches them may cause particularly severe environmental damage and/or has high bycatch, or the lifestyle of the species makes it vulnerable to high fishing pressure. Consumers are encouraged to think twice and consider the implications of these choices.


This group includes both unsustainable species, which are from collapsed populations or have extreme environmental concerns and/or lack appropriate management, and species that are illegal to buy or sell in South Africa (no-sale species). These species should never be bought by consumers. Fish highlighted in bold in this category are illegal to sell in South Africa.

Key to symbols used in lists:

Symbol Description

more than one list

Species appears on more than one list as it is caught by multiple fishing sectors


Fishery improvement projects underway

specially protected

Speccially protected species that are not allowed to be taken out of the ocean at all



Green List


Orange List


Red List



Atlantic Salmon (Norway farmed)


Angelfish ipu

Bigeye Tunamore than one list (SA pelagic longline)

Bluefin Tuna

Calamar/Squid (various species)

Cape Doryipu

Biscuit Skate ipu(SA inshore trawl)

Cape Rock Oystermore than one list (KZN, hand collected)

Cape Horse Mackerel (SA mid-water trawl)

Black musselcracker/Poenskop

Carpentermore than one list (SA line caught)

Cape Rock Oystermore than one list

( Southern Cape hand collected)


Doradomore than one list (SA line caught)

Catface Rockcod


East Coast Rock Lobster more than one list(EC, hand collected) 

Doradomore than one list (SA pelagic longline)

Jacopeveripu (SA ofshore trawl)

Gurnard more than one list(SA ofshore Trawl)


Panga ipu(SA inshore trawl)

Hake (SA demersal longline)

Hakemore than one list (Namibia)

Red Stumpnose/Miss Lucy

Hake more than one list(SA Trawl)

Kingklipmore than one list ipu(SA ofshore trawl)




Shortfin Mako Sharks 

King mackerel

Pangamore than one list (SA line caught)

Silver Kobmore than one listipu (SA inshore trawl)

Kingklipmore than one list (SA demersal longline)

Prawns (various species)

Silver  Kob (SA line caught)

Kobmore than one list (SA farmed)

Red Roman


Mussels (SA farmed) 




Sole ipu(East Coast)

Brindle Bass specially protected

Oysters (SA farmed)

Swordfish (Sa pelagic longline)

Bronze Bream

Queen Mackerel


Cape Stumpnose

Rainbow Trout (SA farmed)


East Coast Rock Lobster (KZN)

Sardines (SA)



Slinger (SA line caught)





King Fish

White mussel (SA hand collected)


Natal Knife Jaw

Yellowfin Tunamore than one list (SA pole caught)


Natal Stumpnose



Natal Wrassespecially protected



Potato Bass specially protected



Red  Steenbras



River Snapper



Seventy-four specially protected



Spotted Grunter



West Coast Steenbras



White Musselcracker



White Steenbras


Download a printable pocket-size SASSI card here.

If you're unsure about the status of species of fish you want to purchase, you can send an sms with just the name of the fish to the SASSI FishMs number: 079 499 8795. If the species is on one of the SASSI lists, you'll receive information about that species, as well as its associated SASSI colour. Smses are charged at standard rates.

The SASSI App allows you to check the sustainability of your seafood choice in real time. You can find out whether to tuck in, think twice or avoid all together. It’s free on Android and iOS!

For more information, visit the SASSI website at Or, if you have specific questions, e-mail SASSI at

Source: South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI)

The content on this page was last updated on 28 September 2017