Samantha Williams


Samantha Williams Community ResearcherSamantha Williams completed her Master’s degree (Development Studies) at the University of the Western Cape in 2005. Soon after, she joined the Environmental Evaluation Unit (EEU) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) where she worked on various projects which included research on coastal and fisheries governance, biodiversity and social justice, environmental management and sustainability. In 2008, Samantha enrolled full-time for a doctoral degree at UCT and her research focused on access to and governance of fisheries and coastal resources in two case studies in the Western Cape, South Africa. Samantha finalized her PhD in April 2013 and is currently based at the Environmental Evaluation Unit as a post-doctoral research fellow and lectures on environmental management at the Cape University of Technology (CPUT) in Cape Town.


Samantha’s research activities have largely been based in small-scale fishing communities in the Western Cape, Ebenhaeser at the Olifantsriver estuary as well as Lamberts Bay and Elands Bay. All communities are heavily dependent on the fishing industry for their economic survival. Within the fishing communities there are limited job opportunities in the formal sector and the fishing industry and activities are therefore one of the largest employers. Some of the main species harvested at these sites include West-coast rock lobster (Jasus lalandii), snoek (Thyrsites atun), hottentot (Pachymetopan), harder-southern mullet (Liza richardsonni) and the very lucrative abalone (Haliotis midea).


Samantha’s research interest and activities aims to analyze access and benefits of resources as well as livelihood strategies in small scale fishing communities. Furthermore, analyses of governance processes (which include policy implementation processes) and how these impacts on access and small-scale fisher livelihoods and vice versa are aspects included in Samantha’s research.

Key Publications

Carvalho AR, Williams S, January M and M Sowman. 2009. Reliability of community based data monitoring in the Olifants River estuary, South Africa. Fisheries Research, 96(2-3): 119-128.

Wynberg, R., Schroeder, D., Williams, S. and Vermeylen, S. 2009. Sharing benefits fairly: Decision-making and governance. In: Wynberg, R., Chennells, R., and Schroeder, D. (editors). Indigenous peoples, consent and benefit-sharing. Learning from the San-Hoodia case. Springer: Berlin, pp. 237-257.

Williams, S. and T. Kepe. 2008. Discordant Harvest: Debating the harvesting and commercialization of Wild Buchu (Agathosma betulina) in Elandskloof, South Africa. Mountain Research and Development 28: 1: 58-64