There are just a few days left before the 8th International Aquarium Congress (IAC) kicks off. Hosted by the Two Oceans Aquarium and taking place from 9 to 14 September 2012 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the IAC is the only international platform for the global public aquarium community to share and learn about new developments in the fields of inter alia animal husbandry, research, technology, management, education, conservation and sustainability. Held only every four years, this is the first time that the IAC, the “Aquarium Olympics”, will take place in Africa and in the southern hemisphere.
Mingle among the clownfish
The 8th IAC will kick off with a welcome reception at the Two Oceans Aquarium on Sunday 9 September, when delegates from around the globe will be treated to a performance by the Cape Minstrels and a guest appearance by I&J’s surfing chef Philip Myburgh, whose sole mission is to create awareness around sustainable seafood.
“Deep down we’re all one”
On Monday 10 September the congress will open with a multi-media performance, “Deep down we’re all one”, conceptualised and staged by internationally renowned artist Francois le Roux (HA!Man). The performance will be followed by speeches by Western Cape Ministers Alan Winde and Donald Grant. Dr Monde Mayekiso, Deputy Director General: Oceans & Coasts, Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, will officially open the 8th IAC.
Three internationally renowned scientists, including leading climate change scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr Camille Parmesan, Dr Elin Kelsey and Professor George Branch, will deliver keynote addresses after the opening ceremony.
Derek van Dam
eTV’s Derek van Dam will co-ordinate the opening ceremony activities as MC. “I’m ecstatic about partnering with this year’s International Aquarium Conference. As a professional meteorologist, it is my business to understand the interactions between our oceans and the atmosphere above. I am looking forward to my role as the MC for this event, so I can speak to an audience that is as enthusiastic about these subjects as I am.
“Not only is the Two Oceans Aquarium a stunning venue for the conference, but it is their positive outlook on marine conservation that I appreciate the most. This is why I believe they will be the best hosts for this conference to date” said Van Dam.
A mini-exhibition will be held concurrently with the plenary programme, providing an opportunity for businesses related to the aquarium industry to market their products and maximise their brand exposure. Delegates will also be treated to a gala dinner at Moyo on the Spier Wine Estate and on the final day of the 8th IAC they will have the opportunity to go shark cage diving with Marine Dynamics or whale-watching with Dyer Island Cruises in Gansbaai.
Youth video conference – an IAC first
In keeping with the theme of the 8th IAC, “The global aquarium community: sharing experiences and collectively inspiring change”, a platform was created to provide the youth, as key members of the aquarium community, with an opportunity to contribute to the discussions at the 8th IAC.
An overnight Voices for the Future of the Oceans Video Conference, kindly sponsored by Vox Pureview and Kathea, will provide an opportunity for students from Cape Town to participate in discussions with students at other aquariums around the world, including Institut Océanographique (Monaco), Monterey Bay Aquarium (Monterey, USA), National Marine Aquarium (Plymouth, United Kingdom), Ocean Park (Hong Kong), Shedd Aquarium (Chicago, USA) and uShaka Marine World (Durban, South Africa).
A synopsis of their discussions and the ensuing resolutions will be presented to the 8th IAC plenary on Monday 10 September 2012. Two Oceans Aquarium Head of Education Russell Stevens says: “We are very excited about this powerful and groundbreaking opportunity to involve the youth in the IAC. Not only will it provide an opportunity for young people around the world to share their concerns and ideas regarding the future of the oceans with one another, but it also provides them with a platform to make their voices heard by the leaders of the aquarium community. This will set the tone for the entire congress, with its themes of sustainability and inspiring change.”
The IAC won’t cost the earth
In line with the 8th IAC’s sustainability policy and the Two Oceans Aquarium’s Platinum certification from the Heritage Environmental Management Company, the IAC Local Organising Committee (LOC) committed to sourcing suppliers and products that are environmentally friendly and that support local communities.
“There was much debate about which conference accessories, like bags and lanyards, we should make available to delegates coming to the 8th IAC. We didn’t want to produce items simply because that’s what you are traditionally given at a conference. After all, few people ever use these items after the conference,” said Two Oceans Aquarium Communications & Sustainability Manager Helen Lockhart. “However, we decided that we would produce bags, lanyards and T-shirts, using environmentally friendly materials wherever possible, and make sure that local communities were given the opportunity to benefit financially from their production.
“We’ve partnered with local organisations to give the delegates high quality African products which don’t cost the earth.” The local organizations include the Positive Beadwork Project (beaded lanyards), Learn to Earn and Hemporium (conference bags), Homebrewed (T-shirts), Eco-furniture Design (tables) and Mason Complete Office Solutions (pens).”