SOUTH AFRICA As the world celebrates World Fisheries Day, ProVeg South Africa emphasizes the need for sustainable alternatives, shedding light on the intricate relationship between reliance on seafood and the well-being of our oceans.

The organisation which is a local branch of ProVeg International, an international food awareness organisation highlighted that there is a need for a paradigm shift in the approach to seafood consumption, aligning with the urgent call for environmental sustainability.

“In line with the global observance on November 21, World Fisheries Day prompts a critical reflection on the delicate relationship between seafood consumption and the well-being of our oceans,” Proveg SA noted in a release.

“While the abundance of maritime produce is celebrated by fishing communities, the pressing need to preserve sea life and ecosystems is underscored by advocates for climate and plant-based alternatives.”

In addition, it highlighted that 90% of the global fish population is either fully fished, overfished, or in crisis, reaching critical levels of decline according to a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

“This poses a significant threat to the sustainability of these resources and the overall health of our environment.”

A UN study, referred to by ProVeg South Africa, also indicated that over two-thirds of the world’s fisheries are either overfished or fully harvested, with more than a third in decline due to various factors.

These include the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, chemical contamination, waste, and global warming.

“Annually, approximately 96 million tonnes of marine creatures are harvested, leading to the tragic deaths of 2.3 trillion sentient beings, not accounting for the toll of illegal fishing,” the report highlighted.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, fish consumption, often praised for its omega-3 benefits and as a cleaner protein source, faces scrutiny for its environmental impact.

Overharvesting, bycatch, and the proximity of human settlements to water bodies contribute to coastal pollution, depleting fish stocks and necessitating longer fishing expeditions.

The rising global demand for fish, driven by technological advancements and a growing appetite for cost-effective protein, raises concerns about population replenishment. Protected species often become victims of bycatch, compounding the threat to biodiversity.

To address these challenges, ProVeg emphasized the need for collective efforts South.

World Fisheries Day serves as a platform to highlight interconnected problems and seek sustainable solutions. The health of the oceans, responsible for half of the world’s oxygen, is crucial for global climate and ecology,” the organisation noted.

“While fish consumption is often lauded for its omega-3 benefits, it is highlighted that it comes with risks. Health concerns are posed by mercury contamination, present in 84% of the world’s fish, affecting both human health and the environment.”

Additionally, ProVeg questioned the viability of traditional fish consumption which promotes alternative sources for nutrients found in fish, such as algae, seaweed, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts.

“The response to this call for change in the food industry is observed with companies like Nestlé, Good Catch, and New Wave Foods offering sustainable and ethical plant-based seafood alternatives.”