Fighting for reef fishes
Fortunately, when it comes to consumer behaviour the outlook seems more hopeful. ‘I used to buy a lot of roman, but I have to follow market trends. My restaurants are all at the high end so they’re sort of trail blazers. They don’t want that fish, so I can’t sell it and I don’t buy it,’ explains Paul Joubert, a local wholesaler.
Some reef fishes, including roman and red stumpnose, are listed as species to avoid on the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative’s (SASSI) responsible consumer guide.
However, there is still a demand. I called 11 fish shops, wholesalers and restaurants to ask if they stock reef fishes and while some were emphatic about their efforts to ‘stick to the green list’, seven of the 11 said that they stocked roman – and sometimes other threatened reef species – when it was available.