Understanding and connecting with fishers

4.1 Converse with Passion

Author / Compiled by

Sofea Farida

Haaziq I.

Reviewed by

Dr. Siti Akmar Ab Rahim (UNIMAS)

4.1 The Objective

Your objective is to get buy-ins from fishers to participate in data collection to improve the availability of data for their daily catch. Fisher community’s participation in data input is what citizen science is all about. Where the community contributes to data collection for it to be analysed to make informed decisions. You will be improving the data available on the number of fish types caught in a day in a specific area. Such data is valuable to monitor the sustainability of fishing practices and has the opportunity to further expand the fishers’ market by innovating the buy-and-sell process to connect directly with a ready buyer. 

4.2 Communicating with a fisher

In order to decide what is the better
decision for fishers to make in improving their profitability, sustainability,
and efficiency, we must first grasp the concept of problems. Problems often
lead us to certain emotions or reactions such as feeling uneasy, stressed, or
in pain. On the other hand, the solution lies within this feeling of discomfort
thus, addressing the problem at the surface level or its root cause can help us
improve the state of our negative reaction making the problem more bearable or
even solving them.

Imagine this – you’re at a supermarket
trying to complete your regular grocery shopping. As you arrive at the market,
you notice that the shopping carts are not at their usual spot. After 5 minutes
of searching around at the basement parking, you found them, hidden at a
corner. At this point you’re a little sweaty, you feel cranky. Though you
braced through the pain and continued with your shopping. After adding a few
heavy items to the cart, you then notice that the cart is harder to push
because its wheels are old and rusty. This makes you feel annoyed because a supposed
30 minutes rendezvous to the grocery store has now become an hour of
accommodating to low-quality service by the supermarket.

Your feelings of tiresome, and annoyance
are the pain points of your shopping experience. In other words, pain points
are problems one faces when carrying out a task or operating a system. By understanding
pain points, one can counter in a set of solutions that has the potential to
improve the situation. 

What if there is a service by the
supermarket to maintain and manage the carts so that they are placed somewhere noticeable
and are oiled regularly? What if sensors are added to the wheels so that the
management is notified when it gets rusty? Do you think that it’ll help improve
your experience as a shopper?

In this context, it is important to understand the problem #DemiLaut is trying to solve by communicating with the fishers and learning about their daily fishing journey to identify their personal pain points when fishing. Knowing the problem gives an opportunity to create solutions. For instance, a pain point that the fishers may face is low profitability because it is not easy to find a customer. The solution can possibly be to provide an innovative version of the #DemiLaut Tech app to be a platform for fishers to sell their products directly to potential buyers, like an e-commerce platform. Data on their catch, its quantity, and quality assurance is stored in the app where buyers can survey for their purchase. 

4.3 How to communicate the right way?

Here’s a little guide for you to start your first conversation with a fisher person:

  1. Introduce yourself first, and that you represent #DemiLaut.
  2. Communicate your intent which is to understand their daily life as a fisher and how #DemiLaut is keen on working with them to improve data for local fisheries.
  3. Avoid appearing superior or condescending, use layman’s words.
  4. Ask questions indirectly.
  5. Remember your objective throughout the conversation.
  6. Provide them with your contact details so that you can continue helping the fisher throughout their #DemiLaut journey.

“Hello sir, I’m Sofea, a volunteer of #DemiLaut. We are a small company that aims to come up with a solution to improvise the livelihood of traditional fishers and modernize traditional fisheries. May I have some of your time to ask you a few questions about your experiences as a fisher.”

You will continue the conversation with them organically to get their voluntary participation in recording data of their fishing journey. Be an attentive listener, and ask follow-up questions that are unique to your conversation. This will help create a safe space for fishers to open up to you.

Simply put:

Ethical communication refers to communicating in a manner that is clear, concise, and correct. You don’t need to follow this structure specifically but it’s important to empathise with your speaking partner to foster collaboration.

4.5 Fishers background

Having a basic understanding of the
fishers’ daily life will help construct some of the ques and questions you
could ask in your conversation. The image above describes the daily fishing
journey of your regular fisher. Each trip will take approximately 6 – 8 hours
depending on the tasks fishers need to do each day. Their day starts before
dawn at 5 am or at 8 pm at night. Here’s a breakdown of the fishers’ job timeline:

1st – 2nd hour: Travels to the fishing spot

2nd – 3rd hour: Starts fishing

3rd – 4th hour: Pack their catches and
clear up

4th – 5th hour: Travels back to shore

5th – 6th hour: Unpack their catch and
carry it to the middle man and create sales.

This process is prolonged further if they encounter any obstacles along the way. For instance, they have to store a surplus fish stock if they do not have a ready buyer to purchase on the same day which pushes their last tasks to a few more hours for storage.

Pain points can include:

1. Not enough fish at a location

2. The fragility of their net

3. High operational costs

4. Low market prices for catch

5. No buyers

6. Long delayed holding times

7. Sudden weather changes such as rain storms that halt fishing activities resulting in no catch and income lost.

Test your traditional fisheries understanding.