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Full Name: 
Serge Raemaekers
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Dr Serge Raemaekers is a fisheries researcher at the interface between natural and social sciences.

He is a specialist in fisheries management systems, works on several fisheries research, training and consultancy projects through his academic position in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.​

He completed his PhD at Rhodes University where he analysed the governance approaches to the high-value abalone and lobster fisheries in the Eastern Cape Province. He has a natural science background with an MSc degree in bioscience engineering from the University of Ghent (Belgium, 2003), but has gained expertise in inter-disciplinary research on understanding and assessing livelihoods and fishing practices, and while undertaking participatory ecological and socio-economic research with local rural communities.​

He has more than 15 years’ experience in aquaculture and capture fisheries, was integrally involved in the development of the South African Small-scale Fisheries Policy, and has consulted on the development of the FAO’s international Small-scale Fisheries Guidelines.​

His research work engages with systems thinking and fisheries governance practice with the aim to recommend governance models and management approaches that are more applicable to small-scale fishers ‘realities. His interests are small-scale fisheries governance, co-management, fisheries information systems, socio-economic research, Climate Change vulnerabilities and adaptation, and community participation and conservation.

He works closely with fishworkers and fisher leaders along the coast as he aims to champion and transform stakeholder driven processes of knowledge generation. Most of his work is centered on social learning processes with local small-scale fishers, with the aim to ensure that the communities’ knowledge; needs and vision are adequately captured and incorporated in any planning and decision-making processes.​

In 2015, Dr Raemaekers launched the ‘Abalobi’ initiative in South Africa ( The Abalobi initiative is an open, transdisciplinary and social learning endeavour, bringing together various stakeholders, with traditional fishers taking centre stage. It is a participatory action research project with a strong community development interface. Abalobi, as a free mobile app and programme, is aimed at social justice and poverty alleviation in the small-scale fisheries chain, transformation in the way we produce knowledge, stewardship of our marine resources, and resilience building in the face of Climate Change. Many of Abalobi’s team members, including the small-scale fishers of South Africa, were integrally involved in the design of South Africa's new Small-Scale Fisheries Policy, which emanated from a Constitutional Court Order and international human and fishing rights obligations. Abalobi brings them together as an extension of their research, advocacy and policy work, and launches the team into implementation and co-operative governance. In November 2015, after a successful pilot period on several sites along the coast, the Minister of Fisheries endorsed the platform as the official catch management system for the implementation of the Policy. More importantly to date, close to 100 fishers, catch monitors and several cooperatives actively use the app in their daily fisheries operations.​

Dr Raemaekers leads the research and development process of Abalobi, from natural and social sciences to research on Information and Communication Technologies that can empower fishers in all aspects of small-scale fisheries governance, and most notably enable fishers to be stewards of marine resources. Dr Raemaekers is a conservationist, however strongly argues for a new ‘conservation paradigm’- one that embraces ecological and human dimensions in a transdisciplinary endeavour. His work on Abalobi has already received international interest with the UN-FAO’s implementation programme for the Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries. He is exploring closer partnership with like-minded researchers, NGOs and fisher groups in Angola, Madagascar, the Philippines, Chile, Cambodia and the Caribbean.


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