African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme: Phase II


Since its inception in April 2002 ACEP has filled a void in oceanographic and marine ecological sampling on the continental shelves of the east coast of southern Africa and the south-western Indian Ocean. ACEP I focused on several sub-projects in the fields of marine geoscience; physical and biological oceanography; marine ecology; coelacanths and biodiversity; isotope, genetic and genome studies; information management and GIS; and environmental education and awareness. Ten ship-based research expeditions were organised, including three dedicated Jago (manned submersible) cruises. Expeditions included cruises along the east coast of southern Africa as well as the rest of the south-western Indian Ocean.

The latest post-graduate opportunities available through ACEP offer new and exciting opportunities in marine science. Students will work with a strongly interactive group of multi-disciplinary scientists from a range of institutions. For more information visit our vacancies page. Applications close on 30 June 2009.

ACEP Phase II (2007 – 2011)

ACEP II was initiated in 2007 and will run until 2011. ACEP II differs from ACEP I in the following four aspects:

1. Funding – Unlike the block grants provided to ACEP I, the vast majority of funding is now managed through the NRF and is made up of student bursaries and individual programme running costs. This will improve tenure security and increase the numbers of MSc and PhD students;

2. Management – The programme is now managed through the Elwandle Node of the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), which is hosted by the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB). ACEP is a flagship programme of SAIAB.

3. Open call – In line with DST’s request for an open and competitive funding system, an open research call was distributed by the NRF in late 2007. This initiative allowed for any South African researcher or research consortium to submit a bid for research funding through ACEP II.

4. South African emphasis – With the initiation of the Agulhas and Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystems (ASCLME) programme, which will run until 2012 and will undertake research throughout the Western Indian Ocean, the emphasis of ACEP has been re-orientated towards scientific questions with a southern African bias.

Objectives of ACEP II

  • Integrate the physical and biological sciences to understand the processes that govern South West Indian Ocean (SWIO) ecosystem functioning;
  • Use innovative science to unravel coelacanth evolutionary adaptations and phylogenies of these ecosystems;
  • Conduct long-term monitoring of ecosystems to understand biological processes and climate change;
  • Determine species richness, biodiversity and biogeography of SWIO;
  • Provide recommendations for SWIO conservation, management strategies and long-term sustainability;
  • Build capacity in offshore marine sciences, particularly developing a critical mass of skilled personnel and addressing equity imbalances;
  • Promote public awareness and understanding of marine science;
  • Generate knowledge and build integrated and shared marine (geographic) information systems;
  • Promote ACEP as a platform for national, regional and international partnerships (e.g. with SANCOR and  ASCLME) that strengthen South African marine science.

At the close of ACEP I, Ms Lucy Scott (now the Data and Information Coordinator for the ASCLME Project) compiled an inventory of all the data sets collected during ACEP field activities, including ten ship-based cruises and three shore-based expeditions. The ACEP data inventory contains 258 records compiled by scientists, technicians and data managers, each of which describes a unique data set. The purpose of the data inventory was to document the primary products of the numerous multidisciplinary research activities funded by the first phase of ACEP that generated data sets of value to the countries of the Western Indian Ocean region. It has been used to ensure that proper archives are kept, that data collected within the EEZs of each country are made available to those countries, and that specimens and samples are tracked. Metadata, specimens, spatial data, remotely sensed data and expedition data may be found at the locations described in the table below:


Type of Data


Description of Data


Data Location




ACEP data inventory uploaded to Nairobi Convention Clearinghouse Mechanisms as a UNEP and ASCLME joint project.




Lodged at National Collections throughout the region. Electronic records of fish specimen data available online


Spatial Data


Available online on The African Marine Atlas, a project of ODINAFRICA (IODE

of the IOC/UNESCO)  (downloadable data sets)  (mapserver demonstration site)

Remotely sensed data


Sea surface temperature and ocean colour data. The Remote

Sensing Server for Marine Sciences


Expedition Data South Africa


Marine and Coastal Management DEAT, Cape Town, South


Southern Africa Data Centre for Oceanography (SADCO)

Tammy Morris-

Marcel van den Berg-

Dr. Marten Grundlingh-

Expedition Data Mozambique


Centro Nacional de Dados Oceanograficos


Clousa Maueua-

Expedition Data Tanzania


The Tanzania National Oceanographic Data Centre

(TzNODC), Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS)

Director, IMS-

Expedition Data Kenya


The Kenya National Oceanographic Data Centre

(KeNODC), Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute


Harrison Ong’anda-



Expedition Data Comoros


Centre National de Données Océanographiques des Comores.


Ahmed Abdoulkarim-

Expedition Data Madagascar


Ministère de l’Agriculture de la Pêche de l’Environment


Association of Intervention for Development and the Environement


Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marines (IH.SM)  

Said Ahamada-

John Bemiasa-



Secure Archive


DVD Copies of all ACEP cruise data are archived at the

South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) in

their raw form

Tommy Bornman at ACEP-