ABALOBI Celebrates Positive Change in South Africa’s Small-scale Fisheries

At Ocean Outcomes, we work to address the full range of systemic small-scale fishery challenges.

We do this by taking a triple impact approach to fisheries improvement — a multi-level process that integrates three dimensions of sustainability and improvement: environmental, social and economic.

We are pleased to share that this approach recently resulted in successful outcomes for those involved in the Struisbaai Linefishery in South Africa, where fishing communities often struggle with finances and obtain fair prices for their catches. The purpose of our work in this fishery was to support local fishing company partner ABALOBI to build a foundation to address overfishing and to develop a community enterprise founded on social justice: articulating economic, social and environmental areas of concern and opportunity.

The work began in 2019, when O2 joined ABALOBI, Struisbaai Traditional Linefishers Association and Conservation International in an effort to better understand Struisbaai Linefishery’s environmental, social and financial dimensions.

Below is a summary of the project’s lasting impacts, from our friends at Abalobi:

A world first for ABALOBI! Our Community-Level Fisheries Improvement Project (C-FIP) in the Struisbaai Traditional Linefishery in South Africa just became the first globally recognised FIP to fully integrate ecological, economic and social responsibility!

FIPs – born from growing global concern about unsustainable fishing practices – were first conceptualized as a means to bring multiple stakeholders together to incentivize a transition to more sustainable commercial fisheries.

While FIPs have had some positive benefits around the world, a major criticism has been that the heavily ecologically-weighted model disregards the critical human dimensions of fisheries. This is particularly true for small-scale fisheries.

In 2020, we embarked on an ambitious journey to develop the first triple bottom line (TBL) Community-level FIP for the Struisbaai Yellowtail Traditional Linefishery. Working with partners, the Struisbaai Traditional Linefishers’ Association and broader community, Ocean Outcomes, and Conservation International, we spearheaded South Africa’s first C-FIP with the aim to address interlinked ecological, financial and social challenges in the fishery – through community-driven innovation.

The journey began in 2020 with a series of mapping and data-gathering exercises – one-on-one interviews, group workshops, surveys, analyses of ABALOBI data – to determine a fishery baseline risk score across TBL spheres. These scores were extensively panel-beaten with the fishers and broader community to ensure inclusion, and the risk profile was collectively agreed upon.

Key activities were identified to address the greatest risk aspects, spanning improved access to first-aid training and enhanced safety at sea for fishers, a tailored harvest strategy for increased catch sustainability, the exploration of export opportunities, and the fostering of constructive dialogue between the community and government/NGOs.

The C-FIP was peer-reviewed and approved by FisheryProgress.org, the global home of FIPs across all fisheries, administered by FishChoice. The C-FIP has just been made public on the platform and we’re proud to represent the first fully integrated FIP!

This is a major milestone for the small-scale fishers of Struisbaai who have meticulously co-designed and implemented their ABALOBI data collections through a Community Supported Fishery model over the last 5 years. Already, significant impact has been achieved in the household food security status of participating fisherwomen and men, with a simultaneous shift in fishing effort towards more ecologically resilient fish stocks.

It is immensely rewarding to see ABALOBI create the enabling environment for a genuine, participatory and holistic FIP this #IYAFA2022!

Thank you to Juno Fitzpatrick, Elena Finkbeiner, Jocelyn Drugan, Jada Tullos Anderson, Hoyt Peckham, and Bokamoso L. for all your input, and teammates Greg Duggan, Chris Kastern, and Stuart du Plessis for leading this crucial work.

– Serge Raemaekers, MD & Founder, Abalobi

Struisbaai Longline Fishery in South AfricaParticipant in the Struisbaai Longline fishery. © Abalobi