Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association

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Prof. Moenieba Isaacs

Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), University of Western Cape (UWC).


Moenieba Isaacs is a Full Professor with the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of Western Cape (UWC).  She is the Academic Coordinator for the institute and manages Post Graduate Diplomas, MPhil and PhD research at PLAAS. She is also the co-coordinator of accredited short-course training on the Political Economy of Land Governance in Africa in collaboration with the AU- African Land Policy Center targeting land professionals in Africa. Her research focus is on understanding the social and political processes of fisheries reform in South Africa, mainly through the lenses of small-scale fisheries policy processes and implementation.  She has worked extensively with communities in South Africa to find policy solutions to the problems, which has highlighted the need to deal with social differentiation in fishing ‘communities’; unless an understanding of such complexities is part of research processes, they can perpetuate local conflicts. Engaged and reflective research must include finding creative and appropriate ways to engage with social processes, decision making and policymaking in the context of diverse civil society interests.

She is the regional coordinator and founding member a the Global Partnership for the Future of Small-Scale Fisheries, Too Big To Ignore, corresponds with SSHRC’s to enhance the understanding about the real contribution of small-scale fisheries to food security, nutrition, sustaining livelihoods, poverty alleviation, wealth generation and trade, as well as the impacts and implications of global change processes such as urbanization, globalization, migration, climate change, aquaculture, and communication technology on small-scale fisheries. In my presentation at the Third World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress in Thailand 2018, she called on researchers, development practitioners, donors, community based organisations to call for  “blue justice for SSF”  in the seascapes where the SDGs, and Blue growth are dominating donors, development agencies, research, and national policies and the traction SSF gained through the voluntary guidelines for Small-scale fisheries and Governance of Tenure are side-lined.

She co-chaired the Human Dimension Working Group on Integrated Marine Bio-geo-chemistry Ecosystem Research (IMBER) 2010-2015.  This group developed a decision-making tool – I-ADApT to assess global change. She formed part of the UN Committee on Food Security’s High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) on the Role of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture for Food Security and Nutrition.  She was part of the expert team organized by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to unpack the notion of fisheries crime in February 2016 and is a director of the research group PescaDolus developing frameworks for fisheries crime internationally.  In 2016, she worked with a team to review the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure in Land, Fisheries, Forestry and Indigenous Communities for the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM).

In 2017, she received UWC Institutional Individual Engagement Excellence Award for her research, policy and community engagement work.

Researcher unique identifier(s) (ORCID, Researcher ID, etc.): 0000-0002-3365-1876

Department of Science and Technology (DST)/National Research Foundation (NRF) C2 Rated researcher