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#DemiLaut: Modernizing traditional fisheries towards a sustainable fishing culture via uplifting and upskilling traditional fishers
Published:  Sep 22, 2021 6:31 PM
Updated: 10:31 AM

Growing up in a household of Japanese descent, Haaziq Ibrahim is quite familiar with the saying “Eat and drink with your whole heart”. It propagates the value of focus. When you drink a cup of tea, focus only on that. When you partake of a dish, focus on eating the dish. Think about those who prepared the meal. Think about those who grow the vegetables or catch the fish. Think about the bounty of nature and be thankful.

A traditional fisher working hard in Sibuti, Borneo - Haji Idin

What does it take to appreciate the bounty of nature? Does it entail knowing the source of protein you consume? Or seeing the sun-burnt skin of the fishermen who haul the nets to bring a favourite fish to your table, and maybe a meal to theirs? Does it require you to know or care to find out whether the seafood is harvested ethically and sustainably? Would this knowledge change the way you purchase or consume seafood? Would you eat more fresh quality fish if you knew that your fish consumption would help traditional indigenous fishers to make ends meet?

Asking these questions over and over again has had instilled deep passion to promote sustainable fishing in Haaziq, the founder of Brique Engineering Solutions, to establish DemiLaut, a social enterprise that aims to modernize traditional fisheries by uplifting and upskilling traditional fishers to transform their value-chain into a community-driven sustainable industry. He believes that helping the fishers to address their self-governance challenge would enable them to govern the food security and the marine environment better.

#DemiLaut’s founder, Haaziq Ibrahim and the inventor of Pemukat Noh, the late Pak Cik Noh

DemiLaut set sail on its social enterprise journey when Haaziq met the late Pakcik Noh, a traditional fisherman who created an automated net-hauler which is simple yet reliable. Named Pemukat Noh by DemiLaut, the net hauler could be easily installed onto the current traditional fisher boat, enabling these fishers to handle net and fish more effectively. The creation has allowed the fishermen to walk out of the miserable situation that was way too huge for them to handle on their own. Integrated concerns such as poverty, lack of access to technology, infrastructure, and tools, competing with commercial boats, and being manipulated while relying on 3rd parties form these wicked dilemmas. Only by addressing these issues would the transformation to conventional fishing be materialised.

Our late Pak Cik Noh, a traditional fisher who aimed to better the lives of his fellow fishers with his inventions.

A traditional fisher hauling his net using the Pemukat Noh

During its early days, #DemiLaut was incubated with Shell Malaysia and Tegas Sarawak, who provided them with funding and training to help them become their own leaders in the social entrepreneurship area. They went on to win the Shell Global Top 10 Innovation Awards, which encouraged and supported them in their humanitarian purpose. They started developing their work and experimenting with alternative techniques, while admitting that it was a lonely and difficult task working on a topic that few others were interested in. The notion of social enterprise was outlandish to them initially until the opportunity came for them to work with the United Nations Development Program and MaGIC as part of the Youth Co:Lab programme. Exposure to a large network of individuals working on similar issues all around the world motivated them to generate more innovation in their application.

The acquisition of the nationwide accreditation as a Social Enterprise basic in 2019 with MaGIC, and the opportunity to be part of the national SIM Penjana Grant, matched the revenues collected for their projects with a social and sustainable agenda. After several tests of ideas and vision, Demilaut has successfully obtained a number of validations for their technological and social innovation model. Thenceforth, in order to determine the value of their development, Demilaut went for numerous international accelerators and grant applications. For all their hard work, Demilaut managed to receive recognition from the United Nation Development Program HQ besides securing training and micro project grants with YSEALI and SavethePhillipineSeas. In addition, they were also able to showcase their improved scientific and engineering approach in Sustainable Impact & Innovation with East-West Centre, a marine research institute under the #EWCInnovationFellows21. As an effort to scale themselves up within 6 months, Demilaut participates in the global ASEAN SEDP & Accelerate2030 program.

#DemiLaut talented transdisciplinary team 

They just recently completed a training program with MaGIC Virtual Global Accelerator Program, where they were coached by Dr Siva and Proficeo Consultancy. The knowledge acquired after going through robust valuation and pitching processes, enhances the team’s understanding of running a start-up, allowing them to progress within just 3 months. Demilaut feels that the abundant opportunities and validations have allowed them to learn and strengthen their existence into what it is today, for which they are deeply grateful.

Dr. Puteri Zarina Megat Khalid, an academician believes that Demilaut creates a transdisciplinary platform for researchers and social entrepreneurs to collaborate for a noble cause of improving the lives of the local fisher people. According to Dr. Puteri, from an academic standpoint, Demilaut also provides an educational platform for students to embark on social entrepreneurship guided by the principles of social interaction and entrepreneurship. These endeavours would be remarkably helpful for the students in the development of their social and communication skills, the two most sought after interpersonal skills by employers. Dr. Puteri iterates that being part of a dynamic organisation such as Demilaut truly brings out the best in her capabilities in terms of resilience, determination and empathy.

Fishing boats installed with Pemukat Noh

This content is provided by Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC).

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