Navigate Up
Sign In

 Prof. Moenieba Isaacs

Position: Acting Director: PLAAS
Department: Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)
Faculty: Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences
Qualifications: PhD (UWC), MPhil (UWC)
Tel: 021-959-3721
Fax: 021 959 9736


 Professor Moenieba Isaacs joined PLAAS as a Research Associate and NUFU funded scholar in 1999, and earned her PhD from UWC in 2004 for her research on understanding the social processes and politics of fishery reform in coastal communities in South Africa. She was appointed to the position of Senior Lecturer in 2007, and has done extensive research on the politics of knowledge production and policymaking in small-scale fishery management, governance, coastal livelihoods and poverty with specific reference to the contestation of South African fishing policy.


Prof Isaacs contributes to developing a more balanced discourse on marine conservation, which incorporates not just the scientific aspects of fishing resource management, but also human and political economy dimensions of sustainable fishing. Limiting catch sizes addresses the problems of fish-breeding, allowing schools to recuperate, but this has a huge impact on the livelihoods of small-scale fishers. Also, Marine Protected Areas often exclude small-scale fishers from traditional fishing areas, where many generations have eked out their existence. When these impacts are not factored in, unsustainable or un-implementable policies often result. Even when such policies can be implemented, they can have significant unintended impacts on poverty and social problems.

Prof Isaacs has worked extensively with communities in South Africa to find policy solutions to the problem, which has highlighted the need to deal with social differentiation in fishing ‘communities’; unless an understanding of such complexities are 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.

Postgraduate programme co-ordination

Prof Isaacs has been the Programme Coordinator since 2007 and works closely with the Senior Administrator, Carla Henry. Her duties include teaching
and supervising students, and managing
the teaching programme, including:
student registration
teaching block preparation
thesis submissions
marks administration
moderation and examination.

She also prepares and attends the Faculty Higher Degrees Committee meetings, Faculty Board meetings and Faculty Administration Forum meetings. Assoc Prof Isaacs also oversees marketing of the postgraduate programme through the PLAAS website, newspapers, students and PLAAS networks; fundraises for student bursaries and institutional costs; and reports bursary finances and administration.


  1. Bundy, A., Chuenpagdee, R., Cooley, S.R., Defeo, O., Glaeser, B., Guillotreau, P., Isaacs, M., Mitsutaku, M., Perry, I, 2015. A decision support tool for response to global change in marine systems: The IMBER-ADApt framework. Fish and Fisheries 1–11. doi:10.1111/faf.12110
  2. Hara, M., Isaacs, M., 2015. Backing small-scale fishers: opportunities and challenges in transforming the fish sector (Research Report No. 2), Rural Status Report. Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, Cape Town, South Africa.
  3. Isaacs, M., 2015. The Governability of Small-Scale Fisheries Food System in South Africa – The Case of Snoek and West Coast Rock Lobster, in: Jentoft, S., Chuenpagdee, R. (Eds.), Interactive Governance for Small-Scale Fisheries, MARE Publication Series. Springer International Publishing, pp. 245–262.
  4. Isaacs, M., 2014. Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture for food security and nutrition (High Level Panel of Experts No. 7). Committee on World Food Security, Rome.
  5. Isaacs, M., Dennis, T., 2014. What is happening to small-scale fisheries in Africa? (Research Report). Korean Maritime Institute, Seoul.
  6. Isaacs, M., 2014. Small-scale fisheries (SSF) policy: A handbook for fishing communities in South Africa. Masifundise Development Trust, Too Big to Ignore & Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, Cape Town.
  7. Isaacs, M., 2013. Small-scale Fisheries Governance and Understanding the Snoek (Thyrsites atun) Supply Chain in the Ocean View Fishing Community, Western Cape, South AfricaEcology and Society 18.
  8. Hara, M., & Isaacs, M. 2012. The current state of extension and advisory services in South African fisheries. Cape Town: Phuhlisani Solutions.
  9. Isaacs, Moenieba, & Gervasio, H. 2012. The dualistic nature of fisheries and policy responses in Mozambique and South Africa. In L. Masters & E. Kisiangani (Eds.), Natural Resources Governance in Southern Africa. African Books Collective. 
  10. Isaacs M 2012 ‘Recent progress in understanding small-scale fisheries in Southern Africa,’ Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 4(3): 338–343.
  11. Isaacs, M., 2012. Individual transferable quotas, poverty alleviation and challenges for small-country fisheries policy in South AfricaMaritime Studies, 10(2), pp.63–84.
  12. Isaacs, Moenieba, 2011. Creating Action Space: Small-Scale Fisheries Policy Reform in South Africa. In S. Jentoft & A. Eide, eds. Poverty Mosaics: Realities and Prospects in Small-Scale Fisheries. Springer Netherlands, pp. 359–382.
  13. Isaacs, M., 2011a. Governance reforms to develop a small-scale fisheries policy for South Africa. In R. Chuenpagdee, ed. World Small Scale Fisheries Contemporary Visions. pp. 221–233.
  14. Isaacs, M. & Hara, M., 2008. Mainstreaming of HIV and AIDS into South African fisheries policyPolicy Brief 27. Cape Town: Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies.
  15. Sunde, J. & Isaacs, M., 2008. Marine conservation and coastal communities: who carries the costs?: a study of marine protected areas and their impact on traditional small-scale fishing communities in South Africa, Chennai, India: International Collective in Support of Fishworkers.
  16. Hall, R., Isaacs, M. & Saruchera, M., 2007. Land and agrarian reform in integrated development plans (IDPs)Research Report 23. Cape Town: Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies.
  17. Isaacs, M., Hara, M. & Raakjær, J., 2007. Has reforming South African fisheries contributed to wealth redistribution and poverty alleviation? Ocean & coastal management, 50(5-6), pp.301–313.
  18. Sumaila, U.R., Chuenpagdee, R., Alexander, P.S., et al., 2007. Ecosystem valuesIntegrating Multiple Demands on Coastal Zones with Emphasis onAquatic Ecosystems and Fisheries, Kiel, Germany: Incofish.
  19. Isaacs, M., 2006. Small-scale fisheries reform: Expectations, hopes and dreams of ‘‘a better life for all’’Marine Policy, 30(1), pp.51–59.
  20. Isaacs, M., 2006. A social coastal fisheries policy for South Africa? Subsistence fisheries co-management for sustainable livelihoods and poverty alleviationPolicy Brief 24: Debating land reform, natural resources and poverty, Cape Town: Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies.
  21. Sumaila, U.R., Chuenpagdee, R., Susan, P., et al., 2006. Global Fisheries Socio-economic Database, Kiel, Germany: Incofish.
  22. Clarke, J., Isaacs, M. & Toulmin, C., 2005. Forestry contractors in South Africa: what role in reducing poverty? Small and Medium Forest Enterprise Discussion Paper, London: International Institute for Environment and Development.
  23. Isaacs, M., Hara, M. & Raakjaer, J., 2005. South African fisheries reform-past, present and future? Policy Brief 16: Debating land reform, natural resources and poverty, Cape Town: Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies.
  24. Clarke, J. & Isaacs, M., 2004. What role for forestry in reducing poverty in South Africa?Case Studies of Contractors in the Forestry Sector, London: International Institute for Environment and Development.
  25. Isaacs, M., 2003. Understanding the Social Processes and the Politics of Implementing a New Fisheries Policy, the Marine Living Resource Act 18 of 1998, in South Africa. PhD - Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. University of the Western Cape.
  26. Moenieba Isaacs, P., 2002. “It’s all about money!”- Implementation of South Africa’s new fisheries policy. In B. Hersoug, ed. Fishing in a Sea of Sharks: Reconstruction and Development in the South African Fishing Industry. Delft: Eburon, p. 137.
  27. Moenieba Isaacs, P., 2002. The 2001/2002 allocations: A modus vivendi for the South African fishing industry? In Fishing in a sea of sharks: reconstruction and development in the South African fishing industry. Delft: Eburon, p. 201.
  28. Isaacs, M. & Schulz, C.E., 2002. Globalisation, Transformation and the Hake Fisheries of Mossel Bay, South AfricaCase Studies of Contractors in the Forestry Sector. International Institute for Environment and Development.
  29. Isaacs, M. 2000. Constituting the commons in the new South AfricaOccasional Paper 5: Community-based natural resource management in Southern Africa, Cape Town: Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies, University of Western Cape.
  30. Isaacs, M. & Mohamed, N., 2000. Co-Managing the Commons in the ’New’ South Africa: Room for Manoeuvre? In 8th Biennial Conference: Constituting the Commons, 31 May–4 June 2000, Mexico City: International Association for the Study of Common Property.
  31. Isaacs, M., 1998. Conflict or co-operation? Attitudes towards the new fisheries policy in three fishing communities in Cape Town. Masters in Public Administration. The School of Government, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town.




UWC Supports Sustainability
© 2013 UWC | Disclaimer | Sign-in

Contact Centre

University of the Western Cape,
Robert Sobukwe Road,
Bellville, 7535,
Republic of South Africa | +27 21 959 2911