2019 WIOMSA Symposium Review

During July 1-5 2019, I attended the 11th Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) symposium at the University of Mauritius with two of my colleagues Nikki and Molly.

WIOMSA is always a great conference as it covers a variety of scientific disciplines and has a strong focus on integrating research and management within the region. Some of the highlights were:

  • Prof Golden’s plenary which discussed the impacts of climate change on small-scale fisheries and human nutrition. Here we were shown which countries were most vulnerable to malnutrition due to declined marine catches, and also which fish species are ideal candidates for aquaculture within these countries based on their sustainability and nutritional value.

  • Prof Dupont’s plenary which discussed the vast and complex implications of ocean acidification. Prof Dupont proved how science communication can make something intangible, such as ocean acidification, tangible, by offering shrimp tastings where people could actually taste the difference between seafood raised in normal or low pH conditions.

  • The science communication mini-symposium, as well as the multiple videos that were shown during the conference (including the following: mzansi & kokoly)

  • The Women In Science speed dating lunch where we discussed actions we could take to improve gender equality in the context of marine conservation within the region. We highlighted the need for more information sharing via face-to-face and online, increase position papers on women in small scale fisheries, and fundraise campaigns for projects that specifically support women and communities in the region.

  • The exciting discoveries and opportunities regarding the deep and open ocean. With increasing off-shore threats such as mining, we will soon need to move towards ‘high-seas’ protected areas, which should be biologically meaningful instead of simply reaching a target % of the ocean. There were multiple talks on how new technology is allowing us to assess the biodiversity of seamounts and deep-water canyons, and results suggest that these areas should be considered for MPAs outside of EEZs.

  • The multiple talks on social resilience, which highlighted how social adaptive capacity is space and time specific, and needs to be conducted on different gender groups and throughout different seasons. I also thought it was interesting how social resilience was qualified, by using questionnaires that asked questions such as ‘Do you think about the future?’.

  • I also enjoyed the posters and talks that showed how surfers and kitesurfers can be used to monitor oceanographic features, often by putting cameras/sensors onto boards.

  • Last but not least, we each took our turn identifying and mitigating threats such as dynamite fishing in a virtual reality diving game!