This paper seeks to assess the state of knowledge in relation to the interrelated subjects of value chains, livelihoods, food systems, and regulatory dynamics in South Africa’s large- and small-scale fisheries. South Africa’s marine fisheries play an important role in sustaining the livelihoods and food security of poorer coastal communities. However, the post-apartheid fisheries dispensation is marked by structural inequalities between large- and small-scale fisheries sectors, with direct implications for livelihoods and food security.
Addressing these inequalities in practice requires a critical understanding of South Africa’s fisheries economy and governance system, and in particular, the way that benefits from the country’s marine commons are distributed within society. As a means to assess the state of knowledge regarding these subjects, the paper reviews key literature that engages with small- and large-scale fisheries value chains, and the livelihoods and food systems they sustain.
Literature on fisheries governance is also reviewed to assess how fisheries value chains are shaped by the regulatory environment.
Having reviewed what is known in the literature about South Africa’s fisheries economy and governance system, the paper briefly considers the implications of this knowledge for small-scale fisheries value chains, and for the local livelihoods and food systems of poorer coastal communities who depend on small-scale fisheries. The paper also identifies important knowledge gaps and future research objectives in relation to the economics and power dynamics of fisheries value chains.
Finally, the paper discusses key themes emerging from the literature that help to shed light on the current process in South Africa’s fisheries.