In 2015, Dr Serge Raemaekers set out to do something that had never been done before: to establish a non-profit, community-driven social enterprise that would help elevate small-scale South African fishing communities through technology, data, and inclusive and responsible practices. It was this vision that brought ABALOBI to life.
ABALOBI reimagines fishing for the modern world. Co-designed mobile technology allows fishers to capture their own data in real-time, access markets directly, create transparency in their work, and keep a more competitive part of the real value of their catch. This helps assert these fishers as the true stewards of the ocean, improving their livelihoods, while returning to more sustainable fishing practices. Restaurateurs, chefs, hoteliers, and private consumers on the other hand, can trace their fish through the value chain, all the way to the fisher who caught it.
Needless to say, after eight years, ABOLOBI’s impact has been profound. But this impact, however, was by no accident. Rather, it came about as the result of unwavering commitment from businesses and consumers alike – all who put in countless time and resources to help build ABALOBI into what it is today. As an early supporter and collaborator, Steenberg was instrumental in transforming a big idea into a reality.
“At Steenberg, we were moved by ABALOBI’s vision and mission,” says Executive Chef Kerry Kilpin at Steenberg’s Bistro Sixteen82 and Tryn. “So when Serge approached Steenberg to trial ABALOBI, we knew this wasn’t only about business, but rather, an opportunity to make a real difference to our cherished oceans, and the people who live and work with them.”
With this goal, ABALOBI went on to launch South Africa’s first restaurant-supported fishery initiative. “From Steenberg’s very first order in 2018 until today, ABALOBI has delivered the freshest ethically-sourced fish of the highest quality. Equally important is that we’re learning every step of the way; it’s invaluable knowledge of the ocean and its fish that we in turn can share with our guests.
There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s simply nothing better out there, and as such, ABALOBI has continued to be our only fish supplier at Bistro Sixteen82 and Tryn. The fact that this initiative is supporting hundreds of families that have lived off the coast for generations makes all the difference.”
Recognising the work done in communities and with businesses like Steenberg, ABALOBI was named
as a finalist for the 2023 Earthshot Prize, in the category ‘Revive Our Oceans’. Established by Prince
William of England, the prize seeks to highlight the work of individuals and organisations working in
five categories: ‘Protect and Restore Nature’, ‘Clean Our Air’, ‘Revive Our Oceans’, ‘Build A Waste-Free World’, and ‘Fix Our Climate’.
“It is an incredible honour to be named a finalist for the 2023 Earthshot Prize,” says Dr Serge Raemaekers. “Consideration for such a prestigious award affirms for the small-scale fishers leading our programme that their efforts to protect their lifeblood – the ocean – are seen, supported and are anything but small. We believe it is possible to innovate solutions that protect ocean life and livelihoods, by driving inclusive ocean conservation and rebuilding initiatives that start with conversation and collective action.” About the Earthshot nomination, Chef Kerry says, “The Earthshot Prize nomination is the result of passion backed by a lot of hard work, strong relationships fuelled by
an important common goal, and a vision for a world that future generations can share and celebrate in. It’s just incredible to see the great amount of work ABALOBI has done in such a short period of time, and we couldn’t be prouder. ABOLOBI has educated and inspired countless people over the years – perhaps none more than the team here at Steenberg. We feel tremendously privileged to have been part of ABALOBI’s journey.”
Like with Steenberg, ABALOBI has resulted in many meaningful collaborations with small-scale fishing communities to reposition them in the value chain, rebuild their fisheries, and help develop more ethical food systems towards social and ecological sustainability. “My hope is for every fisher to become a responsible fisher, to take ownership of the ocean and the species in the ocean for the next generation, and I strongly believe that ABALOBI is the ideal tool,” says David Shoshola, a traditional fisher, and ABALOBI advocate.
The 2023 Earthshot Prize was held on 7 November, with the ceremony taking place in Singapore.
Ahead of World Fisheries Day on 21 November, join the initiative by downloading the ABALOBI app where purchases can be made directly from local fishers, or visit restaurants like Bistro Sixteen82 and Tryn to enjoy the finest coastal catches: fresh, ethical, from hook to cook.
Email email@example.com for further information or visit www.steenbergfarm.com