Food insecurity is a reality for many South Africans with nearly half of the nation’s households living under the poverty line and not being able to afford basic healthy eating. Now more than ever before, our food systems must be sustainable, stronger and resilient to shocks.

Over the last six weeks, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) steered a consumer awareness campaign to promote the importance of sustainable seafood. As campaign ‘Happy Heart, Happy Ocean’ draws to a close this Friday, on World Food Day, the MSC encourages South Africans to support the fight against hunger and food insecurity.

Before COVID-19 hit our shores, South Africa already had over 11 million people suffering from food insecurity. “The significance of World Food Day is to grow awareness of the worldwide crisis of malnutrition and hunger. The pandemic did bring major awareness to the lack of food security we face as a country, and this World Food Day is a great opportunity to continue the consciousness and discussions on how to best achieve zero hunger by 2030”, explains Brain Nell, Chief Executive Officer of Rise Against Hunger Africa.

Now more than ever before our food systems must be sustainable, stronger and resilient to shocks. But what role does sustainable seafood play in combatting food insecurity?
The largest survey of its kind, involving more than 20,000 people across 23 countries and conducted by independent insights consultancy, GlobeScan, revealed that 77% of South African seafood shoppers already made changes to the way they choose and buy seafood in the last year, in order to protect fish in our oceans so future generations can enjoy wild-caught seafood.

Not only is sustainable seafood better for the environment and helping to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, Live Below Water; it also helps ensure a steady supply of an important natural resource that people around the globe depend on for sustenance and their livelihoods.

MSC certified fisheries also support the delivery of sustainable development targets relating to food security and sustainable economic growth. Maintaining or rebuilding fish stocks to sustainable levels is essential to ensure the long term availability of food.

Louanne Mostert, Communications Manager at the South African branch of the MSC explains: “Sustainability is a key driver for seafood purchase in South Africa. When you choose certified sustainable seafood, you play a part in safeguarding our oceans and securing seafood for future generations – a small, but significant, role in fighting food insecurity.

Though some consumers may believe they need to pay a significant premium to include sustainable seafood in their diets, that’s not accurate. Tinned fish has shown to be an affordable, accessible protein option compared to other meats. Even a single tin of fatty fish can provide up to 50% of one’s daily protein requirements and is a great source of vitamins, essential omega-3 fatty acids, iron and calcium.

So, next time you’re out shopping for seafood at your local supermarket, look for the MSC blue fish label and remember to buy an extra tin to donate to initiatives such as Rise Against Hunger and FoodForward SA.”