Bistro Sixteen82 and ABALOBI pilot SA’s first restaurant-supported fishery

Steenberg’s Bistro Sixteen82 and ABALOBI, a non-profit community-driven initiative, are pioneering South Africa’s very first restaurant-sup...

Steenberg’s Bistro Sixteen82 and ABALOBI, a non-profit community-driven initiative, are pioneering South Africa’s very first restaurant-supported fishery that supplies sustainable and traceable premium quality seafood caught by small-scale local fishers.

Tracing the catch of the day via QR code
Sourcing seafood that is ecologically responsible and socially fair is the crux of this ground- breaking pilot project. The partnership between traditional fishers, ABALOBI (, WWF-Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative ( and Bistro Sixteen82, provides fishing communities on the western and southern Cape coast with a better price for their fish and livelihood for their families. The direct route from boat to plate ensures sustainability both for the fisherfolk and for the resource.

“This partnership is extremely innovative and exciting. Aside from enabling fishers to obtain a better price or informing consumers about who caught their fish, we are forging the way for a fairer, more sustainable food system,” says Dr Serge Raemaekers, co-founder and project director of ABALOBI, the isiXhosa word for small-scale fisher.

Through the use of a community-owned mobile app easily accessible on a smart phone, all the fish caught by these small-scale fishers are completely traceable, literally tracking the journey and story of every fish from hook to cook. Five carefully co-designed apps piece together to form the From Hook to Cook system, which enables the processing and marketing of fish and other marine resources with an ecological and social ‘story’ in a manner that is fully traceable.

Imagine being able to trace the ‘catch of the day’ on your plate directly back to the local fisher, discovering more about the species and more importantly, where, how and by whom it was fished. This is what ‘storied seafood’ is all about.
Chef Kerry Kilpin with her catch of the day - locally fished Cape Bream 
“In our restaurant you can order and eat responsible, traceable fish, caught by local artisanal fishers, delivered directly from their boats to our kitchen,” says ABALOBI ambassador Chef Kerry Kilpin of Bistro Sixteen82, where diners can scan a QR code at their table and get the full story of the fish on their plates. 

Chef Kerry works directly with the fishers – men and women – engaged in the ABALOBI initiative, who supply her with their daily catch. These often lesser-known, undervalued fish species such as Cape Bream (Pachymetopon blochii), are rich in flavour with a low impact on the environment.

“Based on co-ownership, the ABALOBI app gives small-scale fishers a voice not only in the food supply chain, but as custodians of our marine resources by collecting valuable local data, previously inaccessible to formal scientific research,” adds Dr Raemaekers.

The ability to collect information from this formerly untapped source holds immense value for fisheries management and conservation. The app also empowers independent small-scale fishers to run their businesses more effectively ensuring sustainability both for fishing communities and the resource as a whole.

The seafood is caught with low environmental impact using traditional methods. By supporting these fishers, restaurants and consumers contribute to high-impact socio-economic development and the empowerment of fishing communities. This development also speaks to the ever-growing public movement to rethink and develop more sustainable and ethical food systems.

“Who fishes truly matters for the sustainability of our oceans and the food systems that we access,” says Dr Raemaekers, who came to South Africa in 2014 to compete a PhD in fisheries science and governance. Working closely with traditional small-scale fishers, he gained valuable insight into their lives, customs and knowledge of the sea, and tremendous respect for their local ecological knowledge.

“These fishers have salt water running through their veins and hold an immense potential for ocean stewardship as the ultimate observers,” he adds.
David Shoshola working the ABALOBI app 
David Shoshola has been a driving force of the ABALOBI project in the Lamberts Bay fishing community. A local small-scale fisher, he has been instrumental in the co-development of the ABALOBI app and was the first fisher to pilot the From Hook to Cook initiative. 

“Fishing is in my culture. It is not only my income, but satisfies an inner hunger. Fishers have a responsibility in the conservation of the oceans. We are the custodians of the sea and must protect it for our descendants,” stresses Shoshola.

Wilfred Consalves is a 4th generation traditional Lamberts Bay fisher: “Fishing has always been a part of our household. We still catch fish as taught to us by our forefathers. Fishing gives me inner peace. It’s my tradition, and I was taught to be compassionate and share our fish with the less fortunate in our community.” 

Lamberts Bay small-scale fishing boats 
“The ABALOBI co-ownership model has stimulated a grassroots movement of fishers claiming their fishing rights – their human rights – and showing that they too have a strong voice in conservation,” Dr Raemaekers points out.

“By purchasing ‘storied’ seafood, eating the right fish, caught by the right fisher, we can contribute to the grassroots economy of our fishing communities and rebuild sustainable fisheries. Nowhere in the world is ‘storied’ local seafood more important than in South Africa given our incredible marine diversity against the backdrop of our political history and prevailing social injustices,” he concludes.

For more information on Bistro Sixteen82 visit, or follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

For more information on ABALOBI visit, or follow @abalobi_app on Twitter and Instagram. Dr Raemaekers can be emailed at

#whofishesmatters #fromhooktocook #fishwithastory

Two delicious recipes from Chef Kerry Kilpin

Grilled Sustainable Fish with Red Pepper Coulis and Artichoke Salsa
Fish with red pepper coulis and artichoke salsa 
Serves 4
4 x 200g sustainable fish (I like to use Cape Bream) seasoned with salt and pepper
1 x lemon
1 cup cooked quinoa
10ml chopped parsley
20g butter
Coriander to garnish
Balsamic reduction

Artichoke Salsa
1 x tin artichokes cut into quarters
1 x packet mange tout julienned
2 x courgettes sliced into ribbons using a peeler
15ml raspberry vinegar
10ml honey
35ml olive oil
2 sprigs of thyme picked
Salt and pepper

Charred Red Pepper Coulis
1 x large pepper
20ml Dijon mustard
20ml red wine vinegar
20g coriander
10ml water
5ml smoked paprika
100ml sunflower oil

Artichoke Salsa
Combine the vinegar, honey, olive oil, thyme and season, add the artichoke and allow to marinate.  Add the mange tout and courgettes.

Charred Red Pepper Coulis
Char-grill the pepper on an open flame or grill pan. Once the entire pepper is black, place in a bowl and cover in cling wrap.  Allow the pepper to cool and then peel, removing the skin and seeds.
Place all the ingredients in a blender except for the oil.  Blend until nice and smooth and slowly add the oil allowing it to emulsify. Season with salt.

Grill the fish with a little oil in a hot pan for about 2 min on each side.  Ensure to get a nice good golden colour and crispy skin. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and set aside to rest.
In the hot pan that you cooked your fish, add your quinoa and chopped parsley with the butter and allow to heat through.  This will take about 1 minute.
Serve the grilled fish on the quinoa, top with the artichoke salsa, drizzle with red pepper coulis and balsamic reduction and garnish with coriander. Enjoy.

Grilled Sustainable Fish with a Spicy Lemongrass Velouté
Fish with lemongrass 

Serves 4
4 x 200g sustainable fish (I like to use Cape Bream) seasoned with salt and pepper
1 x lemon
2 x pak choi, washed and stems trimmed to separate the leaves
50g butter
Coriander to garnish

Tom Yum Velouté
250ml fish stock
10ml olive oil
1 x onion sliced
10ml fresh chopped garlic
5ml chopped chilli
5ml chopped lemongrass
500ml cream
60ml Suree Tom Yum paste (or any good quality Tom Yum paste)
5ml fish sauce
5ml lemon juice

Shimeji Salsa
2 x large carrots julienned
1 x sweet corn on the cob
150g shimeji mushrooms
25ml soy sauce
15ml lemon juice
25ml olive oil
20g coriander chopped

Lemongrass Velouté
Sweat the onions, lemongrass, chilli and garlic in a large pot over a medium heat until soft.  Add the fish stock and reduce by half.  Add the cream and allow to cook further and reduce to about 350ml. Add the Tom Yum paste.  Season with lemon juice and fish sauce to taste.

Shimeji Salsa
Char the corn on an open flame or grill pan.  Once nice and charred, slice the kernels off the cob.
Combine the soy sauce, lemon juice and olive oil to make a marinade for the mushrooms.  Separate the shimeji mushrooms and cut the base of their stems off.   Add the mushrooms to the marinade.  Allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes. Combine the mushrooms with the corn, carrots and chopped coriander.

Grill the fish with a little oil in a hot pan for about 2 minutes on each side.  Ensure to get a nice good golden colour and crispy skin. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and set aside to rest.
In the hot pan add your pak choi with the butter and allow to wilt.  This will take about 30 seconds.
Serve the grilled fish on the wilted pak choi, top with shimeji salsa, drizzle the lemongrass velouté on the fish and on the plate and garnish with coriander. Enjoy.

Pictures: SUPPLIED

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