2022 IAC Programme
Today’s aquariums can and should be jointly recognised as responsible and committed institutions.
They are not just key players in safeguarding aquatic biodiversity but also centres of scientific culture. They are the mouthpiece of the concerns and solutions raised by their audience.
IAC 2022 is an outstanding opportunity for aquariums to share best practices and outline common priorities.
Aquariums, which welcome several million visitors each year, can report on the challenges facing the aquatic world and raise awareness of these issues. They can also actively engage and mobilise the public on issues affecting the ocean and our future.
The theme for IAC 2022 will explore how aquariums engage scientifically, socially and politically with their public and all relevant stakeholders in their day-to-day activities, research and conservation programmes – a prerequisite for developing our organisations.
One overall theme
Aquariums: engaged and active on behalf of the Blue Planet
Aquariums have a special responsibility that is of crucial importance today.
In a world challenged by global warming and the erosion of biodiversity, aquariums are a window on the ocean. They are also a forum to initiate and support the preservation and better understanding of the ocean environment.
Not many of the citizens of the Blue Planet have had the privilege of admiring the beauty and harmony of the underwater world with their own eyes.
Thanks to aquariums, they can encounter living beings that come from an environment that is inaccessible to most people.
Aquariums offer an irreplaceable experience that combines emotion and exploration, and raises awareness of the need to protect this vulnerable world threatened by human activity.
Aquariums are considered the most reliable source of information about the oceans, ahead of television and the press.
In a world where we are all being asked to digest more and more information, and where the official line often takes precedence over scientific fact, aquariums need to reinforce this position and play a full part in the societal debate on animal welfare.
Aquariums are at the forefront of innovation and research in the fields of breeding and reproductive control, improving knowledge of species biology and the ecology of natural marine environments.
They are actors in the preservation of species as they set up or work in partnership with in-situ (in the field) or ex-situ (in our aquariums) conservation programmes.
They are unique places of scientific culture, producing and disseminating knowledge and engaging their audiences, especially young people.
They can support visitors’ determination to act by offering them initiatives that contribute to the preservation of the oceans.
Finally, the network of aquariums is a powerful force for action at institutional, national and international levels.
The aquariums’ commitment is reflected in the way they work to ensure that the ocean is taken into account in decision-making and recognised as a key driver of human development.
First day of the congress – introducing the overall theme
Keynote speakers: leading ocean and aquatic figures from different countries who support key global actions will present their experiences to contribute to the deliberations.
Three themes to launch each of the following three days
Each of the following three days will begin with a keynote presentation on one of the three elements of the main theme.
Presentations selected by the reading committee will follow the keynote presentations.
A scientific and technological commitment on behalf of marine biodiversity
- The first speaker will be a specialist in the history of aquariological science and techniques.
- The second speaker will be a specialist in international oceanography programmes.
Some details of the theme:
- Links with the United Nations Decade of Oceanography for Sustainable Development (2021-2030): aquariums can collectively contribute to a better sharing of knowledge and boost citizen mobilisation in favour of the oceans.
- Controlling animal breeding, health and welfare
- Understand the vulnerability of species and the factors that influence their survival in the wild and in captivity.
- Controlling species reproduction
- Controlling the reproduction of species
- Create a species conservatory (e.g. a global coral conservatory) to preserve threatened species.
- Exchanges and partnerships with research organisations, universities, etc.
- Mobilise the expertise of the teams on the CSR approach of the institutions
- Implement and/or contribute to field initiatives through research carried out in aquariums and promote these actions to visitors.
A societal commitment through education, scientific production and raising awareness
The speaker will be a specialist in the study of the relationship between different parts of society and aquariums, zoos and animal parks.
Some details of the theme:
- Innovative presentation on living beings to raise awareness of the complexity and vulnerability of marine ecosystems.
- Creation of innovative museography and scenography to complement the presentation of living beings and to introduce themes such as climate change (use of new media, virtual reality, etc.) and to make the latest research results accessible.
- Setting up educational programmes offering fieldwork, conservation and participatory science.
- Production of scientific and cultural content on ocean issues.
- Exchanges and cooperation partnerships at local, national and international level.
- Invite the public to get involved by proposing positive citizen initiatives and supporting conservation actions on the ground.
- Follow visitors beyond the boundaries of the aquarium with an online presence and social networks, a form of communication that follows the relationship beyond the aquarium visit and supports societal engagement.
- Adapting to crisis situations. Aquariums in the context of the coronavirus, for example: maintaining links and the ongoing mobilising role beyond the boundaries of the aquarium.
- Communication on the perception of aquariums as conservation actors and highlighting the changing “mission” of aquariums.
- How can actions contribute to the economic health of aquariums?
A political commitment for action to support the oceans
The speaker will be a representative of a government agency committed to ocean protection and sustainable development.
Some details on the theme:
- The mission of being a voice for ocean issues with public and private decision makers.
- To set up, participate in and communicate on the research carried out by aquariums and their partners in their facilities or in the field.
- Develop the role of “ambassador” and communicate the results of public consultations conducted in the aquariums to decision-making institutions.
- Share issues, advise and participate in decisions concerning the management and preservation of the marine environment.
Main theme divided into 8 secondary themes
IAC 2022 will give aquariums the opportunity to share their commitments, innovations and experiences under 8 sub-themes:
- Aquariums are constantly developing their water control techniques, building new tanks and using more sustainable resources for energy.
- This sub-theme will examine how aquariums are organising, engaging and cooperating with innovative companies to develop in a context where environmental, societal and economic sustainability is increasingly required.
- This sub-theme will focus on innovations and new developments in the reproduction of species in aquaria.
- Knowledge of reproduction is a major issue for the conservation of species.
- Criticism of the removal of species from their natural environment is growing. By cooperating in a network, the aquariums of the future will be able to control the reproduction of species and move towards zero removal from the wild; they will also improve knowledge of the natural environment and participate in the management of ecosystems.
- Animal care, veterinary advances, species-specific medical training and the day-to-day work of keepers ensure that animal welfare is met and that visitors are reassured about captivity. This sub-theme will showcase new developments and commitments within aquariums.
- Aquariums play a major role as active participants in the conservation of vulnerable species and threatened ecosystems.
- Through their long-term husbandry methods and programmes, as well as in situ and ex situ partnerships, aquariums strive daily to improve scientific knowledge and develop research on species and ecosystems so that concrete measures can be taken to conserve them.
Scenographic design and production of cultural and scientific content
- Aquariums must constantly reinvent themselves to maintain and attract new visitors thanks to new methods of communication and mediation to explain the major issues of biodiversity and ocean preservation to a very wide audience, from young children to families to the informed public.
- How can scenographic design be used to meet these challenges? What is new in terms of exhibitions and content? What are the positive and negative reactions? How can we define the visitor experience of tomorrow?
Education, raising awareness, mobilisation
- As an educational tool for discovering and raising awareness of biodiversity and marine life, aquariums are platforms for discussion and engagement on the environmental issues and challenges that threaten the oceans and humanity. Whether through tours and workshops, beyond the walls of the aquarium or via digital tools, aquariums are constantly reinventing themselves to offer educational and teaching tools, and demonstrate their leadership role in marine education.
The role of aquariums in society
Aquariums are ideally placed to act as a catalyst between society and the marine environment:
- the general public,
- the media,
- mediators and educators.
For many years, aquariums have been implementing collaborative programmes with all stakeholders. This allows them to carry out research projects and communication and awareness-raising campaigns on various topics, such as sustainable seafood consumption, climate change, innovation, etc.
These joint projects involve all stakeholders and encourage them to work together all the way to the end user, while acting as a powerful lever for communication and the implementation of concrete actions.
In a changing society that risks being divided on the issue of presenting animals outside their natural environment, aquariums are taking a stand in the debate to assert their role and publicise their actions.
Adapting to a global pandemic situation
How have aquariums experienced and implemented adaptation measures to a global pandemic? What experiences can be shared, what lessons have been learned and what should be the future strategy?
Other activities included in the programme
- Pre and post-congress tours: visits to European aquariums
- Poster presentations throughout the congress with daily poster sessions
- Trade show, meetings with specialist companies
- Self-guided tours of Nausicaá and “backstage” guided tour
- Visits, etc. exploring the city
- Visits, etc. exploring the region
- International Jellyfish Conference
A public consultation with all IAC 2022 participants and aquariums will be launched to find out and take stock of what aquariums have been doing for the past 30 years.
This consultation will serve to take stock of 30 years of aquarium engagement and ask the question: What is your vision for the future?
The analysis of the survey results will be available as a field of study for students at local and national universities (social science and anthropology courses).
Public conference on the theme of Aquariums Worldwide: 30 years of Active Ocean Engagement
The public conference will present the results of the public enquiry and introduce independent speakers who will bring their insights and a different perspective on the important role of aquariums.
Please find here the programme at a glance.