The University of Arizona

Subsistence marine fishing in a neoliberal city: a political ecology analysis of securitization and exclusion in Durban, South Africa

Marc Ronald Kalina, Alexio Mbereko, Brij Maharaj, Amanda Botes


In post-apartheid South Africa, the blue economy has been identified as an untapped resource for creating employment and stimulating economic growth. However, in the port city of Durban, subsistence fishing has formed an important component of both the livelihood and identity of individuals living in marginalized communities adjacent to the harbor for over a century. However, since America's 9/11 terrorist attacks a number of new international laws and regulations have shaped local legislation and policies which seek to exclude the public from accessing the harbor area. As a consequence, increased security measures have contributed to an increasingly closed off space, where increased barriers to access have effectively isolated the harbor from the surrounding city, and restricted entry to local fishers. As a result, fisherfolk have been forced to contest their exclusion from the harbor, risking expulsion or arrest to continue practicing their livelihoods. Utilizing a political ecology framework, and integrating perspectives drawn from over a decade of qualitative fieldwork, this article explores how securitization narratives operate as a tool for the neoliberal exclusion of the poor from public space. Analysis suggests that the securitization of Durban's harbor has served to bar entry to the poor towards participating in South Africa's blue economy, while allowing elites exclusive access to marine resources.

Key Words: Indian Ocean, securitization, blue economy, South Africa, subsistence fishing, neoliberalism, public space

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