Happy Heart, Happy Ocean: 5 reasons to choose sustainable seafood this Heart Awareness Month

Marine Stewardship CouncilSeptember is Heart Awareness Month and one of the best ways to keep your heart happy is to eat fish 2 to3 times a week. With new campaign ‘Happy Heart, Happy Ocean’, the Marine Stewardship Council encourages South Africans to choose seafood that’s ‘good for you and the ocean too’

Up to 80 percent of heart disease and stroke can be prevented by simply living a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating. Fish is a high-protein option and naturally oily fish are high in omega-3 fats which are good for your heart and can help to improve overall wellbeing – no wonder many health conscious consumers aim to include at least 2 to 3 servings of fish in their weekly diet.

Independent insights consultancy, GlobeScan, shows that South African shoppers’ top motivator for seafood purchase is that of their family’s health. But 1 in 2 seafood consumers are concerned that their favourite fish won’t be available to eat in 20 years’ time.

It’s a known fact that our oceans are in crisis. Overfishing, climate change and pollution are putting marine ecosystems under immense pressure. That’s why for plenty more fish to be left in the sea, seafood consumers agree that buying fish and seafood from sustainable sources is vital.

Fortunately, some key labels can empower consumers to make smart and sustainable choices. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) blue fish label indicates seafood that can be traced to a sustainable source from ocean to plate. Choosing seafood products with the MSC blue fish label allows consumers to enjoy eating seafood with the knowledge that they have made a positive choice to support well-managed, sustainable fisheries.

In celebration of Heart Awareness Month, the MSC is encouraging consumers to start paying closer attention to the labels on seafood and to explore the vast array of options available.

Why choose sustainable seafood?

At the seafood counter, in the freezer or canned goods aisle, here’s why consumers should choose fish and seafood products with the MSC blue fish label:

1. It’s better for our oceans  

MSC certified seafood is wild, traceable seafood that is independently verified to meet the MSC’s rigorous standards for sustainable fishing and seafood supply. The MSC blue fish label indicates seafood that can be traced to a sustainable source from ocean to plate. Sustainable fishing reduces environmental impacts, guards our oceans against overfishing, and protects marine biodiversity globally. A local example of improved fishing standards is the 90% reduction of seabird bycatch by the South Africa hake fishery since its first certification in 2004.

Not only is sustainable seafood better for the environment, but it helps ensure a steady supply of an important natural resource that people around the globe depend on for sustenance as well as for their livelihoods.

2. It’s good for your heart  

Seafood is protein-packed and provides good nutrients, vitamins and essential omega-3 fatty acids. “To get the most nutritional benefits, the World Heart Federation recommends consuming at least 450 grams of fish per week which equates to three portions weekly,” explains Professor Pamela Naidoo, Chief Executive at the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA), a non-profit dedicated to halting the rise of premature deaths caused by cardiovascular disease (CVD) in South Africa, and is committed to promoting the adoption of healthy lifestyles.

“A good rule of thumb is to eat fish 2-3 times a week and try to include fatty fish in those servings. Even a single tin of fatty fish can provide you with 50% of your daily protein requirements.” Fish such as sardines, tuna, mackerel, hake and salmon have high amounts of omega-3s, which are beneficial for the heart, brain, as well as overall health and wellness.

The HSFSA’s Heart Mark – often seen next to the MSC blue fish label on your favourite seafood products – guides consumers in making healthier food product choices. It also suggests that the food product may contribute towards reducing and controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other conditions when used as part of a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle.

3. It’s a way to drive change with your shopping habits

By buying seafood independently verified as sustainable, you’re supporting fishermen committed to operating in an environmentally-friendly manner and supporting their efforts to keep our oceans thriving. What’s more, every time you buy a product featuring the MSC blue fish label, you are encouraging retailers to stock more sustainably-sourced seafood and more fisheries to improve their practices. With some effort, sustainable seafood could become the norm – not the exception.

4. It’s available at every price point  

Although some consumers may believe they need to pay a significant premium to include heart-healthy and sustainable seafood in their diets, that’s not accurate. The MSC blue fish label can be found on nearly 40,000 products around the globe and it is featured on everything from fresh, frozen, canned and preserved seafood to supplements and even pet food! Whether you’re looking for healthy, affordable school lunch options or hosting a gourmet seafood dinner, sustainable seafood is a viable option. MSC labelled seafood can be found on a wide range of products, from a can of tuna to luxury sushi – giving consumers a choice for their budget.

5. It’s a way to ensure seafood for generations to come  

Along with fisheries, retailers and restaurants around the globe, we all have a part in protecting the productivity and health of the oceans and the livelihoods of people who depend on them. By seeking out certified sustainable seafood, consumers have the power to protect and support the fishing industry, ensuring that generations to come will continue to enjoy seafood as part of a healthy diet.

Start celebrating: Seafood that’s good for you and the ocean too

Heart Awareness Month, observed annually in September, is a platform for raising awareness about heart disease and its risk factors in South Africa and highlighting the importance of a healthy lifestyle. This includes healthy eating such as incorporating heart health promoting seafood into your diet.

To support this effort, the independent non-profit organisation, the Marine Stewardship Council, in partnership with the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, have launched a new campaign ‘Happy Heart, Happy Ocean’. The aim is to raise consumer awareness of heart-healthy, sustainable seafood – easily identifiable in-store by simply looking for the MSC blue fish label and the Heart Mark logo on seafood packaging.

Endorsed by both the MSC and HSFSA, leading fishing company committed to the sustainability of our oceans, Irvin & Johnson Limited (I&J), have partnered to raise consumer awareness of their certified sustainable and omega-3 rich Cape hake products. Giving the campaign feet in-store with its roll out to over 600 supermarkets nationwide, seafood shoppers are encouraged to look for the I&J Cape hake products at their local Pick n Pay, Spar or Checkers stores.

Louanne Mostert, Communications Manager at the South African branch of the MSC explains: “With overfishing, climate change and pollution putting increasing pressure on our oceans, the choices we make as consumers have never been more important. Addressing these challenges doesn’t mean we should stop eating fish. In fact, choosing the right seafood can help to incentivise and reward responsible fishers who ensure our oceans remain full of life, supporting livelihoods and safeguarding seafood supplies for generations to come.

Our research shows that South African consumers enjoy seafood as part of a healthy diet. You might find it easier than you ever imagined to make a seafood choice that’s good for you and the ocean too. To celebrate Heart Awareness Month and upcoming National Marine Week, the ocean and the healthy seafood we love, we encourage consumers to look for the MSC blue fish label and Heart Mark logo when next out shopping at your local supermarket.”

The Eastern Cape’s first professional botanical artist.

Another in the series of our surrounding nature reserve by Matt Gennrichs.

Irma BooysenSitting where we are in the Irma Booysen Reserve we can see, apart from the plants around us, a sweeping sea view stretching from Cape St Francis in the east, past the Seal Point Lighthouse and on towards Rebelsrus in the west. The sandy stabilized dunes between where we sit and the ocean was Irma’s happy hunting ground; this was “her” veld.

Irma was born a Von Below, of farming stock, on the 13th of January 1920 in Middelburg, Cape. She was schooled in Durban and Cradock and thereafter qualified as a nursing sister at the Johannesburg General Hospital, where she met and married neuro-surgeon, Ted Kerr. She now became a housewife and a mother, but still found the time during the early 1950s to attend part-time art classes at the Technical College. She experimented with a variety of media before settling down to concentrate on watercolours.

Her love of plants took her to the Wilds, in Johannesburg, and there she became fascinated by small flowers which she began to paint. From there it was a short step to the Ericas, and her first painting of one, Erica patersonii, which was soon followed by E. jasminiflora. On holiday visits to the Cape south coast she found herself in the Cape Floristic Region and with not only ericas, but a wealth of other small-flowered plants to admire and record.

Perhaps she was mildly apprehensive when she first drove across to Pretoria to visit the Botanical Research Institute to meet Dr RA Dyer and botanical artist Cythna Letty. If this were the case there was no need for it: both the director and the artist were encouraging and urged her to continue with her paintings. Years later Cythna Letty, a renowned artist, was to state, “If only I could paint (details) like Irma.” Three of Irma’s paintings appeared in Flowering Plants of South Africa.

Irma was now put in touch with Colonel HA Baker of Cape Town. He together with E “Ted” Oliver was busy collecting ericas for the British Museum. This resulted in Irma being commissioned to paint specimens for the book. Plants were collected in the Cape and sent to Johannesburg by airmail. Many arrived in a less than a perfect state and she had to resurrect the plant, so to speak. In all she painted 65 species before the break up of her marriage resulted in her moving to the family farm, Keokamma (Honey-water) in the Tsitsikamma. As a result of her isolation she was unable to finish the assignment and Fay Anderson completed the plates for Baker and Oliver’s Ericas of South Africa, published in 1967. Irma was nevertheless awarded the Grenfell Gold Medal of the Royal Horticultural Society for her contribution to the project.

Irma Booysen paintingAfter Irma’s marriage to property developer John Booysen she moved to Cape St Francis and painted not only flowers but also the rock pools and fish that were a stone’s throw from her doorstep. There were also exhibitions of her paintings both locally, in the hotel at St Francis Bay, and further afield: Port Elizabeth, East London, Grahamstown, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Pittsburg and London. She was also commissioned to paint the plants of the Addo Elephant National Park.

It was at Cape St Francis that she met a young student, Richard Cowling, busy with a doctoral thesis on the local flora. Together they planned a book on these plants, and despite Cowling’s temporary move to Australia she began work on the plates. By December 1983 she had completed 97 of the paintings when she fell ill. She died early in the new year soon after her 64th birthday.

The Irma Booysen Reserve commemorates the all too short life of a plant-lover and artist whose intense love for the small-flowered plants resulted not only in works of art, but valuable scientific records. Keep an eye open for the small flowers when next you visit the reserve and give a thought to Irma whose veld it will always remain.

Oliver EGH, 1984. Irma von Below 1920-1984. Veld & Flora Vol 70 No 2 p 45.

Skead CJ, 2002. From Oldenland to Schonland. Privately published. Port Elizabeth.

Article Matt Gennrich

FOSTER - friends of St Francis nature areas