The African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme (ACEP) is a flagship programme of SAIAB and is funded directly by the DST. ACEP was one of the first multi-disciplinary, multi-national research programmes to conduct extensive ecosystem based research in the Western Indian Ocean.
The second phase of ACEP started in 2007 and ran until 2011 and formed the South African component of the Agulhas and Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystems (ASCLME) Project funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme. ACEP is a joint project between the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). The National Research Foundation (NRF) acts as the implementing agency for DST. During the course of ACEP II, SAIAB, as a National facility, has successfully provided research platforms through ACEP II which are normally beyond the ability of a single organisation to provide. In terms of marine research SAIAB, provides access to deep-water research tools such as a Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV), research vessels, as well as SCUBA technical research teams.
ACEP is now in its third phase (ACEP III) which will run from 2012 – 2014 and aims to build on the good work done during ACEP II.
Five Open-Call Projects were awarded funding and platform access for the duration of ACEP III. In addition to this, the ACEP Phuhlisa programme was started in 2012 focussing on providing funding, logistical support and mentorship to students from historically disadvantaged universities.