14 August 2015

13th Annual FishBase Symposium centers on harnessing global information databases for teaching and research


For more than a decade now, the FishBase Symposium is being held in tandem with the FishBase Consortium Annual Meeting. This year, the 13th Annual Symposium will be celebrating the 25th year of FishBase and 10th year of SeaLifeBase.

The annual FishBase Symposium will be held here in the Philippines in Los Baños from September 1 to 4, with FishBase Information Research Group, Inc. (FIN) as the host. The event is generously sponsored by Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Developmet (PCAARDD) , Oceana, WorldFish, SEARCA, Biodiversity Management Bureau, Asian Development Bank, Asean Centre for Biodiversity, Manila Ocean Park,  Mundus maris, World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International - Philippines. This year’s theme, “FishBase and SeaLifeBase for Teaching and Research in Aquatic Science” will focus on how FishBase and SeaLifeBase can be utilized as powerful tools in teaching and research in the Philippines as well as increasing public awareness on the databases, promoting their various applications in sustainable fisheries management, biodiversity conservation and environmental protection.

FIN is guided scientifically by a Consortium of 10 international members, i.e. three European natural history museums (Swedish Museum of Natural History [Stockholm, Sweden], Royal Museum for Central Africa [Tervuren, Belgium], and Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle [Paris, France]); four universities (Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel [Kiel, Germany], Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia [Vancouver, Canada], and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki [Thessaloniki, Greece], Universidade Federal de Sergipe [Sergipe, Brazil]; and three non-government organisations (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [Rome, Italy], WorldFish [Penang, Malaysia], and Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences [Beijing, China]) 
Attending this four-day event at IRRI, College, Los Baños, Laguna are invited speakers from local universities and research institutions, representatives of partner institutions, FishBase Consortium members themselves, and students from universities and secondary schools in the Philippines. 

Among the notable guests is Dr. Daniel Pauly, a world-renowned fisheries biologist. He is the co-proponent (alongside Dr. Rainer Froese) of FishBase, the highly successful database on all fishes of the world and the Principal Investigator of SeaLifeBase, a flourishing complementary database which documents all non-fish marine organisms. An outlier and a true hero in the fisheries sector, he has bravely filled the void in world’s fisheries. While most conform in regulatory agencies with skewed systems, he and his colleagues have looked at the larger picture, repeatedly being upfront on reporting that fish stocks are plummeting worldwide. He stressed that a considerable reduction in global fishing and a firm stand on “no take” zones are crucial for fisheries to thrive. His contributions to fisheries are insurmountable. He co-developed concepts, methods and software which are documented in over 500 scientific and general-interest publications and used by ocean experts throughout the world. With so much on his plate, he even teaches an array of courses at the Fisheries Centre and Zoology, University of British Columbia and handles graduate students in four languages on five continents. No wonder his career has been highly commended in various profiles like Nature and New York Times, to name a few. Recently he was invited in TedXSydney wherein he unfolded the obvious gap between the reported global catch and the much higher reconstructed global catch. Since 1999, he has served as the Principal Investigator of the Sea Around Us, working towards mitigating the impacts of fisheries on the world’s marine ecosystems.

The 13th Annual FishBase Symposium will be held on September 1, and will focus on paper presentations both international and local. Dr. Daniel Pauly will give the key note address with the theme “FishBase: an improbable success, and what it inspired.” Dr. Cornelia Nauen of Mundus Maris, Belgium will lead the inspirational talk. FishBase Consortium members who themselves are presentors will share their experiences and insights in using FishBase to supplement teaching and research activities. They are Dr. Rainer Froese, FishBase Consortium Coordinator, Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research, Germany; Dr. Nicolas Bailly, Helenic Centre for Marine Research, Greece; Dr. Jos Snoeks, Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Belgium; Dr. Kosta Stergiou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece; Dr. Kátia Freire, Universidade Federal de Sergipe, Brazil; Dr. Markus Skyttner, Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sweden; Dr. Fumito Muto, Tokai University, Japan; Dr. Mathieu Colleter, University of British Columbia, Canada; and Ms. Regina Bacalso, ECOFISH-USAID. 

Local presentors will come from five distinguished research institutions and two state universities. They will talk about their work and how FishBase and SeaLifeBase have contributed or can contribute to teaching and research. Speakers are Dr. Reiner Wassmann, International Rice Research Institute; Dr. Rex Montebon, Conservation International-Philippines; Dr. Adelaida Palma, NFRDI-BFAR; Mr. Christian Elloran, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity; Mr. Patrick Co, World Wildlife Fund Philippines; Dr. Benjamin Vallejo, Jr., UP Diliman; and Dr. Asuncion de Guzman, Mindanao State University Naawan. Dr. Maria Lourdes Palomares, SeaLifeBase Project coordinator, will conclude the symposium. 

Other anniversary celebration activities from September 1 to 4 include a poster exhibit of FishBase and SeaLifebBase, a book-giving activity to local libraries, students’ hands-on orientation on FishBase and SeaLifeBase, and an art competition – poster-making and digital photo contests – expressing underwater relationships and connections. A workshop on “New Technology for small scale fisheries data collection” will be sponsored by Oceana on September 4 and will be led by Dr. Stephen Box of Smithsonian Institution, USA. 

This anniversary event is also a tribute to honor the donors, partners and collaborators who have extended their support through the years to provide, free of charge to the public, these comprehensive information systems with key data on all aquatic organisms of the world.


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