Show Map




The SAPRI is designed as a consortium hosted at the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) Egagasini Marine Offshore Node, a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF), a statutory entity established in terms of the National Research Foundation Act (Act no. 23 of 1998).

SAPRI relies on SAEON for all the necessary support functions, e.g. admin, business operations, HR, finance and supply chain management (SCM). In turn, SAEON relies on NRF Corporate shared services such as HR, legal, finance, audit and SCM to provide the necessary support in terms of policies, procedures and advice.

The SAPRI is currently governed by an interim advisory panel, a formal advisory panel and a steering committee, as well as Thematic User Fora and a South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) Coordination Committee, responsible for the alignment between science projects and the infrastructure. This combination of advisory structures ensures transparent institutional arrangements and continuous scientific inputs for the expansion of the SAPRI.

The SAPRI is divided into four integrated facilities (IFs) – also referred to as nodes – managed by consortium partners: Data, Products & Society (DPS); Long-term Observations on Land (LTO-Land); Long-term Observations of the Ocean (LTO-Ocean); and the Polar Lab.

SAPRI Governance


The responsibilities of regulating the Prince Edward Island archipelago and South African activities in Antarctica is vested in the
Department of Forestry, Fisheries & the Environment (DFFE). The DFFE collaborate with a range of National Departments and non-governmental organisations to ensure environmental management of the Antarctic ecosystems.

The Departments such as Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), DFFE, Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) all have a role to play in ensuring sustainability of South Africa’s activities in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic Islands.

Researchers from various institutions receive funding for basic and applied research in Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic through the NRF, which is an entity of the DSI.

The roles of these Departments, indicated in the figure below, need to be carefully coordinated to ensure that South Africa’s investments are optimised. Due to the cross-cutting and interdependent nature of these Departments’ roles, the establishment of a governance framework for SAPRI is necessary to guide the operations and management of Southern Ocean and Antarctic research activities.


Research Management

Research and Human Development

Provision of Research Infrastructure

Provision of Funding for and Management of Research Resources

Management and Coordination of Research Activities

Management of Data Generated to Ensure Accessibility

Provision of Data Management Infrastructure


Regulatory function

Logistics management and coordination

Conservation, protection and management of the environment

Undertaking research relating to conservation, protection and management of the environment

Management of the islands and the research bases

Management of research infrastructure on the vessels and research bases

Plan and implement long-term environmental monitoring

Provision of data management infrastructure for environmental monitoring data; risk management and scenario planning

Maintain and manage environmental data

Owners and managers of research vessels


Maintenance of the research stations at the bases

Maintenance of structural infrastructure

Planning for and modernising infrastructure and utility services at the bases


Management of international relations

Provision of consular services

Operations of the Antarctic Desk

Acting as a focal point for diplomatic communications and engagement

Figure 1: The roles played by of some of the government departments in the national Antarctic treaty system.

Currently the DFFE manages the enabling infrastructure for research in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. These include the S.A. Agulhas II Polar Research and Supply Vessel, research bases at Marion Island, Gough Island and Antarctica, helicopters and vehicles for Antarctic mobility. In addition, DFFE undertakes research and long-term monitoring for advice on the protection and conservation

of Antarctic living and non-living resources and the environment; provides the coordination of logistics activities for Antarctica and sub-Antarctic Islands; and regulates participation of all South Africans in Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic Islands (including Gough Island) as mandated respectively by the Antarctic Treaties Act and Protected Areas Act.



SAPRI is entirely dependent on the DSI and the DFFE for its sustainability and success. The DSI is the reason for SAPRI’s existence by providing the necessary funding for the Research Infrastructure (RI). Access to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica is enabled by DFFE by providing the means to physically access these remote locations. It is therefore necessary for SAPRI to have strong ties with DSI and DFFE to ensure that it achieves the intended objectives.

There are four levels at which the two departments interface very closely:

System-wide research coordination role of the DSI versus the specific research and long-term monitoring role of DFFE particularly in areas of environmental management and protection;
The logistic management role of the DFFE versus the DSI’s role in ensuring that researchers have equitable access to the logistics support;
DSI’s role of coordinating research data versus DFFE’s role in long-term data collection to assist in the understanding of conservation, protection and management of the environment; and

DFFE managing and administering the S.A. Agulhas II and its research facilities, logistics facilities at East Pier, research bases, utilities, communication infrastructure onboard the vessel, at Antarctica and at the Islands versus DSI funding researchers as dependent users of these facilities.


Department of Science & Innovation
Department of Forestry, Fisheries & The Environment
Stellenbosch University
South African Environmental Observation Network
South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity
University of Cape Town
Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observatory

Pin It on Pinterest