A smartphone app that logs data on fish catches is giving small-scale fishers in South Africa hope they can persuade the government to allocate them more of what they regard as their traditional fishing rights.
Abalobi, the app which is named for the isiXhosa phrase abalobi bentlanzi,meaning “someone who fishes”, aims to give small-scale fishers the data to empower themselves and convince others.
Co-produced by the University of Cape Town, traditional fishers and the new small-scale fisheries unit in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the app lets fishers log their catches. They can record what they caught, when, where, using what method and how much they sold the fish for, among other things.
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A free app – co-developed by academics, government, civil society and fishing communities – will be the lynchpin in the government’s efforts to launch and roll out a small-scale fishing industry in South Africa.
Traditional and artisanal fishing communities, according to an Equality Court ruling in 2007, have been consistently marginalised during both apartheid and in the democratic South Africa. With a new small-scale fisheries policy, almost nine years in the making, the government is attempting to redress the situation.
The foundation of this policy is data and the co-management of South Africa’s resources.
The app, known as Abalobi (abalobi bentlanzi is isiXhosa for someone who fishes), will be the information management system for the small-scale fisheries industry, says Craig Smith, the director of small-scale fisheries management in the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
In South Africa, living marine resources are allocated via fishing permits, but only three groups were previously recognised groups: commercial, recreational and subsistence.
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