The last few months have seen three international symposia concerned with various aspects of fish biology – in addition to sessions at the SIL Congress in Dublin.

‘Tropical Fish Biology’ was the theme of the highly enjoyable and successful FSBI (Fisheries Society of the British Isles) annual symposium, held at Southampton University in July. This had a very broad canvas and its great strength was bringing together molecular evolutionary biologists, behavioural ecologists, freshwater and marine fisheries biologists and conservationists, many of whom had not previously met one another. Keynote speakers included Dan Pauly on fishing down the foodchain, Axel Meyer summarising molecular phylogenetic research on cichlids, Villi Christensen on moving away from stock management to ecosystem management (using ecopath models), with among many others, Kirk Winemiller and Carlos Lima on trophic webs and larvae of riverine fishes, respectively. Other presentations were: Will Crampton, electric fish evolution in the Amazon; Lorenzen, the use of floodplain fishes in Laos; Witte, the come-back of some of Lake Victoria’s haplochromines decimated by the introduced Nile perch; and Bob Vrijenhoek, on population genetics and conservation of New World desert fishes. Freshwater biologists gained much from stimulating papers on diversity and reproduction of marine reef fishes. There were numerous, very good posters. The papers form a supplement to the December Journal of Fish Biology. A lively workshop on African fisheries and conservation followed the symposium.

Another highly successful international conference on ‘African Fishes and Fisheries; diversity and utilisation‘ was organized in September at Grahamstown (South Africa) by the J.L.B. Smith Institute for the Paradi Association (formed in Senegal mainly of Francophone African countries) and the Fisheries Society of Africa (based in Kenya for Anglophone countries) – two societies which agreed at this meeting to amalgamate. Some 260 delegates from over 40 countries (35 of them African) attended this very convivial meeting in an atmosphere conducive to working partnerships and friendships in the coming years. The plenary papers included C. Leveque of ORSTOM on African fish and fisheries as a biological and cultural heritage; E. Abban from Ghana on fish monitoring in West African rivers during the 20 year Onchocerciasis progamme; Roger Pullin on Fish genetic resources of Africa; Tony Ribbink questioning whether Lake Malawi is caught in a Malthusian trap.

The intervening meeting, in early September, was an International Workshop of about 70 participants held at EXPO‘98 in Lisbon to discuss ‘Sustainable Use of Aquatic Biodiversity: data, tools and cooperation’, organized by the ACP-EU Fisheries Research Initiative based in Brussels (which will report on the workshop). This included both freshwater and marine fisheries and aquaculture.

Ro Lowe-McConnell