Sustainable fish in the Serengeti

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Frank Louw talks about the challenges of sourcing sustainable fish at Singita Serengeti, a One Planet Community in Tanzania.

Sourcing sustainable fresh seafood is becoming increasingly challenging. Doubly so when you are based in the middle of the Serengeti, hundreds of miles from the sea and hours away from Lake Victoria! Nonetheless fish offers an interesting insight into some of the sustainability issues of the region.

For example eating Nile Perch from Lake Victoria is probably good for th e ecosystem and aquaculture can potentially provide an alternative protein source to bushmeat and could help reduce poaching of wild game.

On top of these issues Singita Serengeti is one of the few hotels in the Serengeti serving seafood from the Dar es Salaam coast. And while they have always been striving to source sustainable seafood there has been renewed focus in this area with the development of our One Planet Action Plan. A formal fish policy was developed last year based on the WWF Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) rating for South Africa. While these guidelines are probably the most appropriate ones readily available they are unlikely to actually reflect the situation of the coast of Dar.

So in February Beverly, our Sustainability Integrator, and I accompanied WWF Coastal East Africa to make a tour of the Dar fish market. It is fair to say that the visit was pretty shocking, summed up by the comment of various individuals that ‘there are rules, but there are no rules’ and that the only species not allowed were ‘sea turtles and dolphins’. On top of this, dynamite fishing remains a serious problem in the area.

At Singita Serengeti we have a small seafood demand and so have limited ability to affect the fishing industry, but we think that it is better to engage with the industry than simply import certified seafood from elsewhere. Our plan is to convene a group of liked-minded partners in the tourism sector and to work with NGOs to try and establish a sustainable seafood consortium. It is going to be a long challenging road, but hopefully we can support those organisations already working hard to promote sustainable fishing practices in Tanzania and East Africa in general.

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