#DemiLaut - Enabling Sustainable Fishing Communities
By Patrick Dulay, Youth Co:Lab
For fishing communities across Southeast Asia, the sea remains the main source of life and bounty fishing as a profession is one that is passed on through generations. Despite the long history of this work, it is surprising that the innovations surrounding it and the process of it has neither seen much change nor reached its full potential.
Haaziq Ibrahim, the founder of #DemiLaut, is on a mission to help fishermen work better with the sea. His social enterprise aims to address the negative impacts of climate change and overfishing in Malaysia and South East Asia. For Haaziq, respecting the natural resources that nourish us daily is very important.
“I grew up in a household with Japanese Traditions. ‘Eat and drink with your whole heart’ is a saying that has taught me to value every aspect of a meal—from the person who prepared it to the one who planted the vegetables and caught the fish.”
This philosophy is at the core of his work at #DemiLaut. Since 2019, the social enterprise has been upskilling and modernizing traditional fishers to transform their entire value-chain into a community-driven sustainable industry.
Project Idin is the first community and economic empowerment endeavor of #DemiLaut. At the center of this project is Mr. Hj Idin, a traditional fisherman from Kuala Sibuti, Sarawak, Malaysia. He started fishing as a hobby when he was a kid. For more than 30 years now, he is taking care of his family through his daily fishing routine. Haaziq in his effort to support Mr. Idin, recalls when they tried to connect him to the marketplace; they learned that the market didn’t want sourcing from small-scale fishers like him because of the inconsistencies of their catch.
“Traditional fisherfolk do not have adequate tools to preserve the freshness of their catch. They work hard but they end up risking contamination and decomposition of fish due to improper stock management. And with the global pandemic, social distancing has made it more difficult for fishermen because what would traditionally be a collective effort is now a solo venture. Fishers like Hj Idin are earning a drastically reduced income despite doubling their efforts,” Haaziq explains.
The situation called for an innovation and in response #DemiLaut engineered the Pemukat Noh, an innovative net-hauling device that can be easily installed onto the current traditional fisher boat, enabling fisherfolk to handle net and fish more effectively. Demi Laut is also developing an AI powered mobile app that will allow fishermen to verify and sell their catches online and tap into a bigger market beyond their rural community.
To make his visions become a reality, Haaziq and his team take all the support they can get. Last year, #DemiLaut raised over $3300 through their crowdfunding initiatives. The funds allow them to equip Hj Idin with the Pemukat Noh device and also kickstart #DemiLaut’s Cold Chain Solution.
“We purchased a 200L freezer and 100 reusable ice blocks to help Hj Idin and his community of 30 fishermen at Sarawat maintain the freshness and reduce wastage of their catch. The ice packs also provide another income source for the community.”
Haaziq credits DemiLaut’s success to his team and to the generous people who support Project Idin. As an alumnus of YCL Springboard Program, DemiLaut also benefits from the startup support provided by Youth Co:Lab, an initiative co-led by UNDP and the Citi Foundation.
“We developed a great partnership with Youth Co:Lab throughout this journey. The YCL team is very understanding and accommodating to us, and we were able to ideate things together.”
Through Project Idin, #DemiLaut aims to help up to at least 30% of the 130,000 traditional fishermen within Malaysia within the next three (3) years. #DemiLaut and its initiatives center around empowering fishing communities to cultivate a sustainable fishing culture by providing them with technology and resources to keep their livelihood alive. Starting with Hj Idin and the fishing community at Sibuti, Sarawak, Haaziq and his team at #DemiLaut is set to help more fishermen on the path to a brighter future. The team believes that by empowering the people of the sea, they are helping create a positive benefit for all.
Co-created in 2017 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship. Read more about Youth Co:Lab here.