Anthea Christoffels-Du Plessis

Anthea Christoffels-Du Plessis

AREA OF EXPERTISE: Anthea’s research focus is on the place of customary fishing rights in South African fisheries law.

AFFILIATION: Anthea is a full-time academic and doctoral candidate at Nelson Mandela Faculty of Law in Gqeberha (South Africa)


South Africa boasts one of the most promising small-scale fisheries policies since 2012. The legal framework supporting that policy, namely the regulations on small-scale fisheries and the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998 as amended (MLRA), falls short on the rights of customary fishing communities in South Africa.

The researcher aims to address this anomaly by proposing a definition to recognise and protect customary fishing rights as a separate and distinct category of small-scale fishing rights in the current legal framework, i.e. the MLRA. In this regard, the researcher considers relevant international human rights standards and draws on lessons from New Zealand, Canada and Kenya.  The research also considers the legal developments of South Africa’s customary communities in general and specifically regarding access to other natural resources. Ultimately, the research seeks to support the recognition and advancement of customary fishing rights in South Africa as a sui generis right within the legal framework.

Making waves

Nelson Mandela University Research Week nGAP Seminar presentation titled: “Fishers’ Rights are Human Rights” (2022) – read here >>

Recent publication

Christoffels-Du Plessis, A., Erinosho, B., Major, L., Morgera, E., Sunde, J., Vermeylen, S. (2022). “Navigating a Sea of Laws: Small-Scale Fishing Communities and Customary Rights in Ghana and South Africa.” In: Boswell, R., O’Kane, D., Hills, J. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Blue Heritage. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham – read here >>