[Coral-List] ICRS Registration Fees

Yellowlees, David david.yellowlees at jcu.edu.au
Wed Jul 20 02:13:58 EDT 2011

Message from the ICRS 2012 Convenor
There have been some postings on Coral List expressing concern at the cost of registration for the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) next July. We are writing to clarify the basis for these fees and provide an update  on continuing efforts to support those in need of financial assistance to attend this important meeting.
The fees are set on the basis of actual costs and expected income, and reflect the realities of the present global economy.  The expenditures for ICRS 2012 come to more than A$3million including the cost of the convention centre, lunch and coffee breaks for 5 days, travel and accommodation for plenary speakers, the hire of audio-visual equipment, the banquet, the cost of a Professional Conference Organizer, media, and one salary for the symposium coordinator. The size of the budget will not surprise anyone with any experience in running a large international meeting.
The International Society for Reef Studies, while the sanctioning organization, does not possess sufficient funds to directly subsidise the Symposium, although the society is working with conference organisers to assist with external fundraising efforts.  So the income for ICRS 2012 will come from registration fees and sponsorships. If 2000 registrants pay $1000 each, we'll raise only 2/3 of the fixed expenditure. Our fundraising efforts, which are ongoing, will therefore subsidise registration fees by approximately one-third, and will provide free registration and travel support for developing nation delegates to the maximum extent possible. The Symposium website will soon have details for applicants.  The money we are raising under difficult global circumstances will allow us to reduce the registration fees from $1500 (the true cost, depending on the final number of delegates) to roughly $1000 (or less for students).
The comparison of Florida with Cairns doesn't deal with the fiscal reality of differences in local costs that have to be paid. Previous meetings in Tahiti and Okinawa were also relatively expensive compared to those held in the USA, reflecting differences in currencies and cost of living. The U.S. dollar has dropped in value against the Australian dollar by roughly 20% since 2007 when registration opened for ICRS 2008 (1.18A: 1USD in August 2007 compared with 0.93A: 1 USD today), a problem that could not have been foreseen three years ago.  It should also be recognized that no bids were presented to host the 12th ICRS at the Florida meeting, and the present organisers stepped up when all other options, including sites in Central and South America, fell through.   In Florida, the convention centre waived its fee, and registration fees were heavily subsidized by Federal and State agencies through the efforts of Dick Dodge and his team.  Some people were able to drive to the meeting and boost the Symposium's income by paying a daily fee. These circumstances simply do not exist for the 12th ICRS.
I anticipate an increase in the number of students attending the next ICRS meeting, with many more from the Pacific, Japan, SE Asia and east Africa. Attendance by people from these regions was poor in Florida despite the lower registration cost, because the primary expense of airfares, hotels and meals was prohibitive. Hence, the rationale for moving these Symposia around every 4 years.
We're working hard to make ICRS 2012 a great success, and we look forward to seeing you there.
All the best, Terry Hughes
Convenor, ICRS 2012

Message from the President of the International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS) regarding the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS)
I and my fellow ISRS colleagues, officers and council members have been following the concerns being expressed regarding the fees for the upcoming ICRS, and agree that the costs will prevent many deserving individuals from attending, especially students and participants from developing countries. This is truly unfortunate, and there are efforts underway by the organizers and ISRS to address this problem.
As documented by the Organizers, these fees reflect the true costs in the present global economic climate of reduced subsidies and funding by governments and foundations, as well as the 20% devaluation of the US dollar versus the Australian currency that has occurred since 2007-8 .  The hosting organization, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, simply cannot be expected to cover the expense of the meetings out of their own budget, and must be able to cover the costs through fees, contributions and any extramural funds that can be raised.  The meeting is only a year away, and the organizers must move forward based on their present financial projections.
They have been working hard to obtain support for students and other participants in need of assistance, and have done well considering present economic conditions.  In the meantime, ISRS is pledging to work closely with the 12th ICRS organizers to try and secure additional funds to cover or at least subsidize the participation of more individuals needing support, and explore options for the sharing of information including via internet access to sessions and key presentations for those unable to travel to Cairns.
My first ICRS was the 3rd, held in Miami in 1977, with several hundred attendees clearly divided into two categories: biologists and geologists.  These important meetings have grown in size and scope to include two to three thousand individuals, with representation from the biological, geological and social sciences, as well as managers, educators, policy makers, and the private sector.  We are fortunate that Terry Hughes and his colleagues at the ARC Centre of Excellence were willing to take on such a challenge.
It has become impossible for many appropriate countries to host these expanded meetings under the present model, and hence, the ISRS is considering other options for the future.  These may include smaller regional meetings, expanded use of the web for satellite sites, teaming up with other appropriate professional  societies and meetings to cost-share, and having ISRS take over running the meetings.  I would appreciate ideas and input from the Coral Reef community (and if you're not a member of ISRS, I suggest you do join, as we're moving forward and would like to grow the society and its relevance).
In the meantime, I hope you will support the organizers of the 12th ICRS and help make this a highly successful meeting.  We need to pull together for the sake of our reefs and the future generations who need these magnificent ecosystems.
Bob Richmond, President, ISRS
Richmond at hawaii.edu

More information about the Coral-List mailing list