News / South Africa

Lauren Beukes
2 minute read
15 Jun 2018
2:54 pm

Be mindful of dwindling sardine numbers ahead of this year’s sardine run

Lauren Beukes

Sardines are on the orange list, which means their numbers are dwindling.

Image: Sassi; WWF

As we approach another sardine run, we are cautioned and reminded by the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (Sassi) to think twice when catching the tiny silver fish, reports the South Coast Sun.

READ MORE: Sharks Board on high alert as sardines appear on Eastern Cape coast

“Sardines [Pilchard] are on the orange list which simply means Think Twice, where fishermen and communities should make a conscious effort to take less fish out the water than before [when the species was green-listed and in abundance],” said Sassi.

According to Sassi, sardines are caught using purse-seine nets, and these nets are set around a school of fish at the ocean surface or in the mid-water. Once the fish are surrounded, the bottom of the net is closed by a footrope.

So, what does this mean for the annual sardine run?

With the little fish no longer on the green list, this means sardine lovers will have to think wisely about the amount that they are taking out of the ocean.

There are other creatures that depend on the sardines, and with the species now being on the orange list, it indicates that sardine numbers are dwindling close to a crisis.

In an article written by Helen Lockhart,  Two Oceans Aquarium Communications and Sustainability Manager, she encouraged fish consumers to think twice and to consider other creatures such as the African penguins who are already having a tough time finding food.

Due to the climate change and increasing fishing pressure, penguin numbers are declining. “And both of these are impacting on the penguins’ main food sources – sardines and anchovies. While there are no legal ramifications to this change it highlights to seafood consumers that there is a sardine crisis. And a sardine crisis means a food crisis for African penguins,” said Lockhart.

Watch as sardines start a feeding frenzy under the sea:

Source: Two Oceans Aquarium website

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