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19 December 2022
Women of the sea find their voice
Not everything at the seaside is about snoek, crayfish, perlemoen, poaching and bokkom butter. The women living in South Africa’s coastal towns can attest to that. 

A new book, Beyond The Blue - Women of the Sea, documents the lives and livelihoods of 17 women who give a snapshot into the world of fishing rights complexities, entrepreneurship, motherhood, and making a living from the sea.

The book's focus is to record the women's progress and tell their life stories in a way that will honour them and give them a place in history.

The book is produced for the University of the Western Cape's Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) and Mikateko Media. PLAAS is an independent policy research institute within UWC’s Faculty for Economic and Management Sciences.

Beyond The Blue is co-authored by UWC Professor Moenieba Isaacs, UWC PhD student Tracey Dennis and the founder of Mikateko Media and media personality Ingrid Jones.

Isaacs said: “For me, this research has always been about looking at the inequalities, marginalisation and the invisibility of small scale fisheries in South Africa, but also the continent and internationally.” She said it was vital that they give the women a platform to tell their story in their own voice: “We brought the women together and we also worked them through the process and walked them through the ethics, explaining permissions and photography and then went through an in depth two-hour interview with all of them for the book.”

“I am deeply indebted to the women for sharing their stories, many of their stories come from a lot of self doubt and also a lot of wounded spaces. When we think about women in fisheries, they are often invisible. They play a role where they basically feed the fisherman to go to sea and often in history women played a big role in the market, cleaning and preserving fish and using traditional methods to store fish, especially for winter use,” said Isaacs.

Tracey Dennis said this was an important project and book for her.

“I have my ancestral roots in Arniston, and I currently live in Struisbaai, so it's very close to me. The snapshot of the 17 women’s stories is the culmination of our research work with the women throughout the years. We have the opportunity now to celebrate and honour them through the showcasing of their stories,” Dennis explained. 

“I’m grateful and humbled that they invited us into their space, not only the spaces that they share with the communities, but their personal spaces, and I’m grateful that they trusted us with their journeys and trusted us to be able to share it with the rest of the world.”

Ingrid Jones described the book as a “game changer” in her writing experience. 

She added that it was important that they create a platform for these women. “They are not necessarily always positive but the women have a very positive outlook on life,” she said. 

“Through the telling of their stories, I hope that it will get to a bigger audience, it will reverberate around the world and that the plight of the poor and women in our coastal communities who have to fight harder than anyone else to eke out a living for themselves, is heard.”

Beyond the Blue is available in hardcopy.
Cover Price: R350
Available online at
Contact: Professor Moenieba Isaacs 084 682 8443,