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Prof Moenieba Isaacs

Academic Coordinator and Professor



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 manager for postgraduate teaching, co-coordinator of accredited short-course training on the Political Economy of Land Governance in Africa and on Living Landscapes in Action: new thinking on integrating biodiversity and social justice in southern Africa. 

Her research focus currently is on developing the concept of blue justice linking it to spatial injustices, the gendered dynamics of women in living landscapes in and around enclosures in the blue economy. She has worked extensively with communities in South Africa and in an engaged and reflective research where she develops her thinking tools. She is currently lead  PI on creating systemic redesign of the wet and dry conservation sector in Southern Africa called Living Landscapes in Action. Country coordinator for Small-scale fisheries (SSF) project on Vulnerability to Viability (V2V). Team member transformative social innovations in the governance of small-scale fisheries in the Indian ocean region. She was co-PI on African food systems and Covid-19 PLAAS – one-year action-oriented project entitled “The Impacts of Covid-19 Responses on the Political Economy of African Food Systems”.She is part of the Programme Committee of the Marine and Coastal Science for Management (MASMA) programme – a regional competitive research granting mechanism providing funding and technical support for coastal and marine research, training and communications in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region.

Research Focus

Small-scale fisheries management and rights, Individual Transfer Quotas (ITQs)


  • PhD on the implementation of new fisheries policies in four South African fishing communities, University of the Western Cape, 2004
  • MPhil, University of the Western Cape

Selected Publications

International Peer Reviewed Journals

Isaacs, M. and Witbooi, E. 2019. Fisheries crime, human rights and small-scale fisheries in South Africa: A case of bigger fish to fry. Marine Policy, 105, pp.158-168.  DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2018.12.023

Isaacs, M. 2016. The humble sardine (small pelagics) ‒ fish as food or fodder. Agriculture and Food Security. DOI: 10.1186/s40066-016-0073-5

Isaacs, M. 2015. Multi-stakeholder process of co-designing small-scale fisheries policy in South Africa. Special Issue: Global change, human-ocean interactions and ways forward. 15(7) ISSN 1436-3798.Reg Environ Change. DOI 10.1007/s10113-015-0874-2


International Peer Reviewed Book Chapters

Isaacs M. (2018) Climate variability, overfishing and transformation in the small pelagics sector in South Africa. For chapter in volume ‘Responses of marine systems to environmental change’, eds Patrice Guillotreau, Alida Bundy and Ian Perry. Routledge Academic Books.

Isaacs, M. 2015. The Governability of the Small-Scale Fisheries Food System in South Africa – The Case of Snoek and West Coast Rock Lobster. Springer Academic Books.

Isaacs, M. 2011. Creating an Action Space: Small-Scale Fisheries Policy in South Africa. In Jentoft, S (ed.) Poverty Mosaics: Realities and Prospects in Small-Scale Fisheries. Poverty Mosaics. Springer Academic Books. 359-382.


Peer reviewed  International Research Reports:

Ortega, D, Isaacs M, Guttal S (2016) Sythesis Report on Civil Society experiences regarding use and implementation of the Tenure Guidelines and the challeng of monitoring CFS decisions. Civil Society Mechanism Committee (CSM) on World Food Security (CFS) WG on monitoring. CSO report on the use and application of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT) as input to the Global Thematic Session during CFS 43.

HLPE. 2014. Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture for food security and nutrition. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition, June 2014. UN, FAO, Committee on World Food Security (CFS).