Hans Verheye - Survey Leader and Head of Biological
Oceanography, Cape Town
The BC-CPR Sister Survey in the Benguela Current Large
Marine Ecosystem (BCLME)
Newspaper clipping from The Plymouth Herald, 19 February
At the conclusion in 2007 of the BENEFIT and BCLME Programmes,
two regional research and capacity building initiatives in the
Benguela Current ecosystem, a regular long-term, ecosystem-wide CPR
survey, was identified as a cost-effective means of ecological
monitoring of the highly variable and dynamic Benguela Current
region through systematic plankton monitoring.
It was recognised that this form of survey would provide advice
to the governments of Angola, Namibia and South Africa on a number
of marine management issues. These include the management of the
ecosystem, with particular regard to transboundary resources, their
biodiversity, and the transboundary impacts of maritime activities
such as fishing, pollution, eutrophication, mining, oil and gas
exploration and extraction, shipping and the introduction of alien
invasive species and toxic algal species in ballast water, as well
as the effects of climate change on the oceans influencing the
In November 2009, this recognition led to the Benguela Current
Commission (BCC) granting seed money to the South African
Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to develop, through a
partnership with SAHFOS, a regional sister survey. The aims of the
BCC Project were to establish a regional CPR Survey and CPR Centre
in the BCLME, with local capacity to maintain a self-financing,
long-term, regular CPR sister survey that will produce regular
quasi-synoptic maps of Phytoplankton Colour Index (PCI) and indices
of abundance and diversity of phyto- and zooplankton taxa off
Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Thereby, providing input into
national State-of-Marine-Environment Reports and the regional State
of the Ecosystem Information System (S.E.I.S.) and yielding data
that will be integrated into the global CPR database.
The CV Horizon, a container vessel of Ocean Africa
Container Lines, committed to regular, long-term towing of the
BC-CPR between Luanda and Durban.
Around mid-September 2010, the BC region obtained its first CPR
body (#189) and five internal plankton sampling mechanisms,
purchased by DEA, demonstrating the department's commitment to CPR
surveying in the region. In February 2011, two marine research
technicians from South Africa and Namibia attended an intensive
operational CPR training course at SAHFOS.
Subsequent discussions between SAHFOS and Dr Hans Verheye (DEA),
the New Survey Leader, led to the agreement that quarterly tows be
done between Luanda in northern Angola and Port Elizabeth/Durban on
the South African south coast, thus traversing ca. 2,500 nautical
miles in waters influenced by the cold Benguela Current (BC) and
the warm Angola and Agulhas Currents, which bound it in the north
and south respectively.
Soon thereafter, the Hong Kong-registered CV Horizon, trading on
the Luanda-Durban route, was identified as a suitable
ship-of-opportunity. Her owners (Denor Shipping Co., Hong Kong),
operators (Shangai Costamare Ship Management Co., Ltd), and agents
(Ocean Africa Container Lines), as well as the Master (Capt. Zhang
Guangru) and his all-Chinese crew are all willing to participate in
this long-term CPR Survey, accentuating their 'green' credentials
with the international community.
Capt. Zhang Guangru, Master of the CV Horizon; Dr Hans
Verheye, BC-CPR Survey Leader, and Mr Liu Gru Zou,Chief-Officer of
the CV Horizon.
Perhaps the most significant milestone of this developmental
project thus far was the inauguration of the BC-CPR Sister Survey.
The CV Horizon left the port of Luanda on 22 September, and soon
after her departure, the first BC-CPR was launched, concomitantly
with the celebrations of the 80th Anniversary of the CPR Survey in
the North Sea on 15-16 September 1931, which were held during the
'Plankton 2011' Symposium in Plymouth on 22-23 September 2011.
Subsequent inspection of the silks revealed that all five tows
were successful. Samples from these tows will be analysed by SAHFOS
staff and used as training material during a training course for
sample analysts scheduled for next year, after which samples from
subsequent tows will be analysed by local analysts at the regional
CPR Centre in Cape Town.
Diagram showing the approximate track (black line) of the
first set of 5 CPR tows deployed from the CV Horizon in the BCLME
region in September 2011; the latitudes/longitudes of the start and
end positions and the distance covered by each tow are also shown.
The track is superimposed onto a modelled SST output (April 2007)
only to illustrate the trajectory of the CPR through water masses
influenced by the three current systems (Angola, Benguela and
Agulhas Currents) governing the region's oceanography, productivity