Cape Town - The Department of Environmental and Water Affairs has released South Africa's polar research and supply vessel - the SA Agulhas - on a symbolic ten-day climate change voyage ahead of COP17 in Durban.
The 30-year-old vessel set sail from Cape Town on Saturday with over 50 people on board who will raise awareness around climate change in the country's coastal cities.
There are also exhibitions, meetings and lectures taking place on board, showcasing various scientific activities undertaken by the department and its stakeholders in the Antactica and Southern Oceans.
The campaign will also reflect on the opportunities and threats posed by the ocean to coastal communities and "the real and considerable impact of oceans on the climate".
Oceans and Coasts Deputy Director-General Monde Mayekiso, addressing the media and passengers just before departure on Saturday, said: "The Southern Ocean is regarded as key in understanding the processes of climate change. [As] the Southern Ocean is on South Africa's doorstep...we have the ideal tool and platform to do cutting edge research."
He announced that the SA Agulhas would be replaced with a new, modern and fuel efficient vessel by April. He said the new ship, about to be completed in Finland, would draw international researchers and experts and build capacity in some research disciplines.
By the end of the COP17, SA Agulhas would be on its last voyage to the Antarctic before decommissioning. -