Amsterdam, October 15, 2017 – For three days in October, Amsterdam could be considered the shark capitol of Europe. A group of 150 scientists, policymakers and nature conservationists from all over the world traveled to the Netherlands for the 21st edition of the annual scientific conference of the European Elasmobranch Association (EEA). The Dutch Elasmobranch Society (NEV) was the proud host of this year’s conference. They managed to fill a three-day program with more than 60 presentations by speakers from 24 countries. The entire event aptly took place in the actual location where the EEA was originally founded: the grand building of the Royal Tropical Institute.
Three major names were invited as keynote speakers for the meeting, all of which well-known experts in their respective fields. Dr. Robert Hueter is the director of the Center for Shark Research established by the American Congress in the Florida Marine Marine Laboratory, which has been a shark research authority for decades. In his presentation, Dr. Hueter delivered a compelling lecture about the course of his career as a shark researcher and gave career advice for the new generation of scientists. A generation that was well represented in Amsterdam: more than half of the participants of the conference were either a student or early-career professional.
Dr. Kim Friedman is a member of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and ultimately responsible for the implementation of global shark protection measures. His presentation focused on the different aspects of shark management and conservation, and underscored a need for stakeholder cooperation.
Marine ecologist Dr. Neil Hammerschlag is renowned for his work with white sharks, tiger sharks and hammerheads, and he is regularly featured in Discovery Shark Week. Hammerschlag’s presentation provided an extensive overview of his pioneering research.
Presentation topics in the program ranged from the latest scientific research methods, population genetics, physiology, ecology, the status of endangered and newly discovered species and recommendations for improvements in European and international policy. Further more, special attention was paid to critical areas, such as the Mediterranean, where more than half of all sharks and rye species are threatened with extinction. Breakout sessions with pre-determined topics such as the management of mako sharks, the Mediterranean, elements for successful cooperation, and a European telemetry network provided a great opportunity for exploring partnerships and cooperation, and sharing multidisciplinary expertise.
The final day of the meeting concluded with the traditional conference dinner. And it was a special one. A fully furnished greenhouse in the Amsterdam World House provided the setting for an elaborate buffet dinner organized with the utmost dedication by undocumented migrants from the We Are Here To Support organization.
After a full weekend of learning new thinks about sharks, meeting loads of new people and catching up with old colleagues, all delegates returned home on Sunday to proceed their work. Until they will meet again, in another European city, for a new inspiring EEA meeting in 2018.