When Surfers and Fish Get Together

Friday, December 18th, 2015


No living creatures besides fish spend more time in water than surfers. Both need safe and clean oceans to to do their thing. In fact, surfers are just big fish who ride boards. This could be why surfers have the sustainable seafood thing waxed…like at the Wavescape Fish Fry late last month in Muizenberg, the heart of surfing in Cape Town.

“Surfers have an innate appreciation for the sea and often, they are the first to notice changes in the water like pollution…they make wonderful ocean champions,” says Pavs Pillay, Manager of WWF-SASSI (World Wildlife Fund –Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative), the organisation that presents the Fish Fry. It’s just one event in the larger Wavescape Film Festival which celebrates surfing every November and December (and just came to an end – you’ll have to catch it next year).

IMG_2743Held at Muizenberg’s Blue Bird Garage Food and Goods Market, the Fish Fry was all about craft: surf, beer and food. There were hand-made wooden surfboards, surfboard shapers you could chat with, food stalls, craft beer, a surfboard swap, and a one of a kind WaWa Paipo wooden surfboard which was later auctioned for charity.


Surf culture deluxe, on the community level: real surfers (meaning an absence of overpriced board shorts), beer and lots of little kids running around.

Photo courtesy WWF-SASSI
Photo courtesy WWF-SASSI


Besides raising money for the Waves for Change trauma programme, the Fish Fry is about getting people to think about ocean conservation; specifically, cooking fish that is sustainable. This is and needs to be a big concern here in the Cape, where I’ve personally witnessed the fish supply diminish in the 21 years I’ve lived here.

A sustainable fish cook-off was the means for the message, with local mussels and yellowtail the main ingredients. It was the Shark Coals vs. the Kalk Bay Locals vs. Team SASSI (aka The Panda Made Us Braai) vs Team Pick n Pay (Pick n Pay is the presenter of the Wavescape Festival and a core funder of WWF’s Sustainable Fisheries Programme).


The winning team, Team SASSI, cooked a spicy tomato mussel pot and braaied foil packets of yellowtail fillets with lemongrass, lemon, white wine and butter.

Photo courtesy WWF-SASSI
Photo courtesy WWF-SASSI

There is much more to say about what WWF-SASSI does to point people in the direction of cooking sustainable seafood, like their Trailblazer Awards which recognize chefs “who are actively championing sustainable seafood practices in their restaurants,” but I’ll save that for another time.


Written by Ilana Sharlin Stone

I'm a food writer, blogger and former chef who found her umami in Cape Town, South Africa.

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