Small scale fishing communities are out of the doldrums of market access. For a long while, this little unknown industry has been caught in the crossfires of fishing rights.
With a new ABALOBI app suite, small scale fishers now form an integral part of information and resource networks, from fishery monitoring, maritime safety to local development and market opportunities.
“ABALOBI app suite is a fisher-driven, iterative process of co-design and -development. The fisherfolk of South Africa are an integral part of our team. They direct the development process, in terms of pace and in defining needs for the platform” said Serge Raemaekers.
Using smartphones, small scale fishers are able to determine and calculate the value amount of the fish catchment using the ABALOBI MARKETPLACE.
According to Raemaekers, the ABALOBI app provides a fair market, not only improving fishermen earnings but also “ensuring that fishers can afford to fish, and can afford to keep a portion of their catch for their household and for local distribution within their community.”
The concept was developed in partnership with the University of Cape Town researchers, the former national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and several small-scale fisher community representatives.
Interestingly, the app was encouraged by discussions on implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy and United Nations FAO Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries.
Following the launch of the app, government response became swift in gazetting the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy in South Africa.
Encouraged by the technological innovation of the app in providing market access, the app managed to demonstrate the economic effects of marginalised traditional small-scale fishers in the fisheries sector, providing a sounding board for the much-discussed Small-Scale Fisheries Policy to be gazetted.
“The new Policy was seen as a bold step towards recognising small-scale fishers’ traditional rights and seeks to implement novel co-management approaches, decentralise resource allocation, and involve fishers in resource monitoring and compliance” it said.
To date, the ABALOBI app has over 100 fishermen and women involved in the initiative, with close to six active sites in South Africa.
“With full rollout, the app suite has the potential to impact 100 000 households dependent on the small-scale fisheries sector in South Africa” added Raemaekers.