The South African app empowering local fishing communities | Global Ideas | DW | 17.11.2021

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Global Ideas

The South African app empowering local fishing communities

The latest technology is helping small-scale fishers fully document their catch and bring it directly to customers.

Watch video 06:27

South Africa: Abalobi — A sustainable fishing app

On South Africa's Cape, small-scale fishers are fighting for survival as big companies, with better technology, larger boats and major fishing rights threaten to put an end to their traditional work. 

Social enterprise ABALOBI wants to support these locals to keep their jobs by introducing the latest technology. Users enter their catch data in an app and customers can order directly from them via an online marketplace. Now they are no longer dependent on intermediaries and are fairly paid for the fish they catch. 

For consumers, an integrated QR code provides details about the fish, making the supply chain more transparent. It lets cooks and restaurants know exactly where the animals on their plates come from and when they were caught.

Fishing experts Serge Raemaekers and Abongile Ngqongwa developed ABALOBI in 2017 and later turned it into a social enterprise. For their name, they chose the word Abalobi, which means fisherman in the local Xhosa language. 

Today over 2,000 fishers using the technology supply private customers and around 400 restaurants in the Western Cape. The group estimates that 10 million rand (€650,000) have flowed directly to the communities since the start of the project. 

A man putting freshly caught fish on ice to keep it ready to eat

Hahn Goliath, who comes from a family of fisherman, putting fish on ice at the Abalobi hub

Project name: ABALOBI 

Project goal: Using technology to help small-scale fishers around South Africa's Cape. Currently, pilot projects are running in Eastern Cape Province, Madagascar and Mauritius, among other countries.

Project partners: Based in South Africa, ABALOBI partners with many other organizations around the world to bring their technology to fishing communities like Blue Ventures, Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation, Future of Fish, Pesca Sustenavel, Seychelles Hook and Line Fishermen, Ocean Outcomes, WWF, Conservation International, World Conservation Society, Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions, SOPACT

Project duration: Since 2017

A film by Julia Jaki

A chef holding a pan full of fresh Cape bream fish

Chef Neil Swart with his Abalobi order of fresh Cape bream caught off the coast of Cape Town

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