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SA doccie ‘Coding for Crayfish’ wins at International Ocean Film Festival

‘Coding for Crayfish’. Picture: Supplied

‘Coding for Crayfish’. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 21, 2022


A story about an innovative way of catching crayfish has earned “Coding for Crayfish” an international award at the recently-held International Ocean Film Festival (IOFF) in San Francisco.

The South African documentary was the only winner from Africa. The documentary was produced by the SA based, global social enterprise, Abalobi and Amehlo Productions’.

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It tells the story of traditional West Coast fisherman, David Shoshola, whose family has lived in Lambert’s Bay for generations, fishing primarily for the once abundant crayfish, or rock lobster.

Despite the set legal limits, unchecked industrial fishing in the 1970s, followed by poaching by gangs from the 2000s, has significantly affected both lobster populations and fisher livelihoods, leaving the fishery on the brink of disaster today.

Shoshola talks of Abalobi’s disruptive entrance into the industry and how the traceability technology, co-developed with the fishers, has started to transform his career and ultimately, the entire community’s livelihoods.

The festival accepts films of all genres that focus on any of the varied aspects of the ocean, from around the world. “Coding for Crayfish” was one of 11 films awarded this year.

Serge Raemaekers, managing director of Abalobi said receiving the award was an amazing recognition for the organisation, but also for the small-scale fisherwomen and men with whom they work.

“They are grateful that their story is being heard and being recognised. There is a desperate need for effective, alternative interventions contrary to disengaging from the rock lobster fishery, and the communities that depend on it.

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“To achieve any form of sustainability, we need to rethink how we get there and have a greater focus on the fishers who rely on marine resources.

“We have to engage, and reimagine fair, transparent market opportunities,” said Raemaekers.

Ana Blanco, the festival’s executive director, said the films awarded this year are deserving of recognition because of the way they stand out in a field of exceptional quality and diversity.

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“All of our films and filmmakers are standouts and advance our mission of saving our oceans through the beauty and education of the visual medium,” she said.

“Coding for Crayfish” is available to watch online here.