West Coast Fishing Communities – Impacts of the Changing Fishing Industry

Food Security in West Coast Fishing Communities

This project comprises 2 MA theses on the following topics:

  • The possibilities for mariculture in Saldanha Bay as an alternative source of employment, in the context of declining fish stocks and loss of traditional livelihoods ; and
  • Women’s role in and management of household-level food security in Paternoster.

How does the Project fit in with the FSI Vision?

The project brings an important sociological dimension to the FSI research programme, in that the two theses will be exploring issues such as power, gender inequality, social networks and identity in shaping livelihoods as well as access to and the distribution of food within vulnerable communities and households. The project on mariculture will also address possible alternative employment opportunities in the context of declining fish stocks.

Goals and Objectives of the Project/s

  • To advance understanding of the complex social dynamics relating to food security/ insecurity in selected communities caught up in significant processes of social change.
  • Unpack the social dynamics around food and food security/insecurity in selected West Coast fishing communities that are feeling the socio-economic impacts of restructuring in the fishing industry as well as gentrification of the built environment for recreational use;
  • Contribute to increased awareness of the interplay of local and regional dynamics in shaping food security/insecurity at community and household level.

    During harvesting, boat crew of the Saldanha Bay Oyster Company bring bags laden with farmed Pacific oysters aboard the 11m vessel the Imbaza.  The oysters have been fattening for several months in the productive waters of the Bay.  Ashore in the factory, they will be cleaned, graded, chilled and packed live on ice for transport to buyers around South Africa and in Hong Kong.

What will the Outcomes of the Project be?


2 MA theses

Conference papers

Research articles


Any relevant findings with regard to policy and policy implications will be worked through with the relevant authorities.

Community Impacts

Community workshop to discuss findings

Input to the Food Security rhetoric

The project will result in various research outputs that will contribute to the research aims of the larger project, including two MA theses, conference papers and research articles. There will also be a community workshop at which findings will be discussed with interested parties. No guarantees can be made about the policy take-up of this work in advance.  Nor can community impacts be determined in advance, although an effort will be made to communicate findings to interested community members, NGOs and local political leadership.

What is the duration of the study?

The study will run from 2010 to 2012. Two MA students are involved, along with three members of staff in their capacity as supervisors for the projects.

What funding opportunities exist for your project?

Additional funding requirements and opportunities have yet to be determined. It is likely that research will open doors for further research and so interested funders can contact Prof. Walker for more details.

Future areas of research

To be determined in relation to the unfolding of this project.

Contact details

Prof CJ Walker
Department of Sociology & Social Anthropology
Stellenbosch University
(021) 808 2420

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