In spite of an initial sluggish response, the Great Lakes Of the World (GLOW) IX Organizing Committee and the Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management Society (AEHMS), in close consultation with co-host the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), decided to go ahead and launch the conference and chose August 2019, particularly in light of the Blue Economy initiative of the Kenyan Government.
KMFRI received a substantial budget from its Government to host the conference near Kisumu, virtually on the shores of Lake Victoria. With this start-up fund, it became much easier to also attract funding from the United Nations University (UNU) in Iceland, which intended to sponsor alumni that took part in UNU fisheries training activities. The Great Lakes Fisheries Commission (GLFC), a loyal co-sponsor of GLOW, also contributed to the budget, making GLOW IX possible. Further financial assistance came from Pwani University in Kenya.
The AEHMS announced a new deadline for submission of abstracts and just before this expired, applications and abstracts began to pour in. The committee was shocked and happily surprised to receive over 200 abstracts for oral and poster presentations. Suddenly, the organizers had to shift to a higher gear to review, edit and print the Book of Abstracts and arrange hotel space, transport facilities, catering, etc. GLOW IX once again became highly viable!
Over the years, GLOW organizers have counted on the collaboration of many abstract reviewers, who again did not disappoint. KMFRI printed the Book of Abstracts prepared by AEHMS and the Local Organizing Committee, chaired by Dr. Christopher Aura Mulanda, is herewith commended once more for excellent local preparations.
KMFRI financed the participation of numerous Kenyans, provided they submitted a manuscript for presentation well in advance; solely submitting an abstract did not suffice. The subtitle of the Conference: Promoting Blue Economy, Food Security and Conservation, led to the submission of manuscripts concerning not only Africa’s Great Lakes, but also smaller ones, and even a considerable number of papers on the marine environment to which Blue Economy was applicable. Consequently, the scientific committee members in charge of organizing the programme had to consider a wide range of topics. The program kept all participants active and alert, while interesting discussions developed during the sessions, as well as in the corridors! As the number of conferences nowadays is limited, many participants from all corners of the African continent and from others, made use of the opportunity for networking and meeting researchers from other lake situations. Nearly the entire Management Board of KMFRI attended the conference and on the penultimate evening, the Chairman of the Board, Hon. John Safari Mumba, together with the President of the AEHMS, hosted a conference dinner at one of the international hotels in Kisumu. During the event, the first sample of one of KMFRI’s flagship books was presented to the audience entitled, Status of Fisheries in Kenya. Various AEHMS Monographs were awarded to participants who received special recognition for their hard work in making GLOW IX the most successful conference so far.
As always, the Scientific Committee organized a plenary session on the last day of the gathering to discuss the main findings and conclusions and to call on all contributors to submit their completed manuscripts for publication in AEHM as soon as possible. The committee announced the venue of the tenth GLOW which is to be held in Tanzania after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. As a result, the dates of GLOW X cannot be planned as yet.
Finally, the Organizing Committee expresses its gratitude to the Government of Kenya for its permission to hold the conference in Kisumu and to KMFRI for its extraordinary contributions to facilitate many participants. The Committee also recognizes the UNU for its generous contributions to invite a number of keynote speakers and alumni and the GLFC for meeting part of the costs of the publication of the GLOW IX Special Issue. The Committee is very grateful for the enormous efforts made by the AEHMS Secretariat to make GLOW IX a reality.
Martin Van der Knaap, Chair Scientific Committee, Executive Advisor AEHMS
Mohiuddin Munawar, Conference Co-Chair, President AEHMS
James Njiru, Conference Co-chair, Director KMFRI