Phone app ensures fishermen keep track of their catch

2016-11-24 06:02

A new smartphone app to help small scale fishers monitor their catches has been launched.

This app is meant to empower traditional fisheries, Abalobi Bentlanzi in Xhosa (meaning fishers) with data about their catches.

Most of them are traditional fishers still using their old traditional fishing ways.

It has been felt that their indigenous knowledge needs to marry with technology to make things a bit easier for them.

Suraya Hamdulay said: “This is a perfect demonstration of the transformative power of technology to be able to digitise catch records for subsistence fishermen and empower them through taking ownership of their catch data.

It also helps them in planning their business because traditional fishers don’t have lots of access to finance.

There needs to be transparency and sustainability in the industry and the community of fishers need to go on a deeper level,” she added.

Hamdulay indicated that this initiative will be able to help ensure that the fishermen were firstly given phones and secondly help fund the development of the App that would be life changing to these fishermen.

This further demonstrated that a sector that is steeped in tradition can be enhanced through the use of technology whilst not compromising tradition.

Historically, the government refused to acknowledge the existence of the small scale fisheries sector.

This led to dire implications for about 30,000 traditional fishermen along the country’s bountiful coastline.

Living marine resources are allocated through permits, but traditionally, only three groups were recognised: commercial, recreational and subsistence fishers.

“Traditional or artisanal fishers straddle commercial and subsistence fishing: they make their living from marine resources, but are not big business and because of this, they were not allocated fishing rights.

A 2007 Equality Court judgement found that both the apartheid -era and democratic governments had marginalised these fishers and ordered the government to include them in its rights allocations.

It has taken nine years for the government to begin rolling out its small-scale fisheries policy,’ says Suraya.

“This is a true example of creating shared value.”

Suraya pointed out that funding for the application and smart devices for the fishers and the application was developed by academics at the University of Cape Town, a unit in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in conjunction with the fishers.

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