History of EMBS | 53rd European Marine Biology Symposium (EMBS)

The European Marine Biology Symposium has been an annual event on the calendar of marine biologists since 1966. The EMBS has been hosted in 20 different European countries, some having been visited more than once.

The history of the European Marine Biology Symposia dates back to 1960 when a series of German marine biological symposia was initiated by Otto Kinne, Director of the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland. These Symposia attracted marine scientists from outside Germany and it was realized that European participation should be encouraged. In answer to a questionnaire sent out in 1965, 98% were in favour of European Marine Biology Symposium being held at regular intervals; 65% were against affiliation to any existing international bodies. As a result, the first European Marine Biology Symposium was held on Helgoland in early Autumn 1966 (see Kinne, 1967).

Such was the success of this meeting that Symposia have been held annually since 1966. To date they have been organized in about 20 different European countries, some having been visited more than once, attracting marine scientists not just from Europe but from all over the world. Details concerning topics for discussion at the Symposia and all aspects of organization are left to the inviting institution. One, or sometimes two or three topics are chosen which normally reflect the interest of the inviting body. This restricts somewhat the number of participants but allows for an efficient exchange of ideas and discussions.

At the first meeting in Helgoland, an ad hoc Committee was organized consisting of a representative from each European country attending that meeting. Such a Committee meets during each year’s Symposium. The purpose of the Committee meeting is to ensure the informal nature of these Symposia and their continuity, and also to give advice to inviting institutions when necessary. There is a President, who holds office for 3 years and is supported by a Secretary. The late Harold Barnes of the Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory, Scotland, was elected the first President. He was followed by presidents coming from France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Austria and Wales.

It is the second time that EMBS is visiting Ostend. The first time dates back to 1975, when the 10th EMBS was organized by the Institute for Marine Scientific Research (IZWO), the predecessor of the current organizer Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ). This 10th edition of EMBS brought together over 400 scientists from 40 countries in the Ostend Casino-Kursaal and put IZWO – which was founded in 1970 - on the global map in September 1975.

Pictures of EMBS10 in Ostend

Overview of past and future EMBS conferences