Creating Action Space: Small-Scale Fisheries Policy Reform in South Africa

  • Moenieba IsaacsEmail author


The main argument of this chapter centers on whether formalizing governance processes and drafting a small-scale fisheries policy will decrease vulnerability and improve the livelihoods of small-scale fishers. Findings suggest that with no one organization representing fishers in the communities of Struisbaai and Arniston along the southern coast of South Africa, the space is wide open for the elite (rights holders) to capture the benefits. The inability to access rights through formal channels has forced a situation where many fishers resort to poaching, even within the marine protected areas (MPAs). The analytical framework draws on concepts related to the institutional dimensions of fisheries governance; the formal and informal action space for developing a new small-scale fisheries policy for South Africa; and the vulnerability of fishers with weak agency. Data were collected mainly through qualitative methods from key informants, focus group interviews, household interviews, and participatory observations at the local community level.


Action Space Marine Protected Area Governance Process Artisanal Fisher African National Congress 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank Tracey-Lee Dennis, Stuart du Plessis, and John Granfield who assisted me in the field. Thanks also to the Norwegian Research Council for providing the funding for the PovFish project. In addition, the comments of Ratana Chuenpagdee and Svein Jentoft to my chapter were invaluable, and also the editing of this chapter by Maria-Victoria Gunnarsdottir.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for PovertyLand and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), University of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa

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