Abalobi, the mobile app for small-scale fishers was launched on Tuesday, January 31 amidst great excitement of fishers from the Langebaan community. The launch, held at the Langebaan Multi-Purpose Centre was attended by fishers and other interested stakeholders including Masifundise Development Trust.
In attendance were the leadership and members of the Langebaan Branch of Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA) as well as CLSA members from Lamberts and Saldanha Bay and Cape Access an internet access project of the Western Cape Government.
Abalobi is an application (app) for fishers, that can be used on cell-phones and tablets to capture important data about fishing activities.
Abalobi, the Xhosa word for Fisher has been chosen as the name for the project and the app, Serge Raemakers, the director for Abalobi said, “initially Abalobi was called the Integrated Management System, but felt that it was a terrible name, and when one of the fishers proposed that the app be called Abalobi, it was immediately embraced.”
Up to now, Abalobi has been a pilot project in Port Nolloth, Hondeklip Bay and Vanderkloof Dam in the Northern Cape, Ebenhaeser and Lamberts Bay on the West Coast and Kleinmond and Struisbaai on the South Coast.
Raemakers indicated that the Langebaan launch is not another pilot project, but that fishers can now register on Abalobi.
Abalobi has a suite of five apps, namely Abalobi Fisher, Abalobi Monitor, Abalobi Manager, Abalobi Co-op and Abalobi Market Place.
These apps can be used by different groups of people for different purposes.
For instance, Abalobi Fisher will mainly be used by fishers and small-scale boat owners, who will use it to record and retrieve data.
Some of the advantages of these apps were explained as:
- Fishers can build a record of their catches and how much money they have earned
- The data from the app can be used at a later stage that the fishers are gain-fully employed, because at the moment banks regard fishers as unemployed because they do not have a proof-of-income.
- Data about fishing, how much fish were caught, where it was caught, and for how long those places have been fishing grounds can be established and used in court cases to defend the claims of fishers.
- Local knowledge is being stored and through the app can be used as a base from which future research should be done. One fisher explained that sometimes the government send researchers from Cape Town to do research in Lamberts Bay, and these fishers go and look in the wrong places for the fish. The app, they said, will do away with wrong data.
- Do away with the keeping of small slips of paper which gets lost.
- Empowering fishers to have data about them at their fingertips. No longer will they give their information to DAFF and for it never to be seen again.
- A direct link to the market-place can be established, fishers can now know what they are paid for their fish and for how much it is being sold on the open market. Fishers can directly link with the buyers and even new markets can be set up.
Nico Waldeck, implementation director at Abalobi said the project was inspiring, “My greatest motivation for being part of the project is seeing the positive development amongst fishers, I witness this daily and it inspires me.”
During the launch it was mentioned that access to the internet for fishers was one of the main obstacles to the app, and this included the lack of cell-phones and smart mobile devices amongst fishers, and that technology sometimes puts fear into many fishers.
Raemakers reported that at the moment Abalobi is in consultation with one of the cell-phone providers to make it ‘free to use’ the app.
“The condition for this is that users will need to subscribe to that particular service provider in order to use the app without data,” Serge mentioned.
The director of Cape Access, Hilton Arendse explained that in Langebaan, Cape Access is already providing free Wi-Fi at the Multi-Purpose Centre and that fishers should utilise this spot.
“Langebaan fishers can use the free wifi we provide, and we will be rolling out Wi-Fi hotspots all over the province, and we plan to make harbours to be Wi-Fi hot-spot areas” said Arendse.
Solene Smith chairperson of the CLSA Langebaan Branch said the event was about learning about an important tool that benefits small-scale fishers.
“I am not originally from Langebaan, and when I came to stay here people commented that I was just a ‘plaas-meisie, (farm-girl) and that a plaas-meisie cannot do anything. I have decided that I do not want to remain a plaas-meisie, and over the years I have learnt many things. Today, presents us with another opportunity to learn and empower ourselves. I am very excited,” Smith declared when opening the launch of Abalobi.
Attendees were shown how the Abalobi App works by David Shoshola, a CLSA member from Lamberts Bay gave and a short inspiring documentary on Abalobi in Lamberts Bay, ‘Open Water’ was screened.
The Abalobi App is available on Google Play and can be downloaded onto your phone from there.
To find out more about Abalobi, visit: www.abalobi.info.