Dear colleagues and guests,
On behalf of the local organizing committee and Ifremer, the hosting institution, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to Nantes, France, for the 18th International Conference on Harmful Algae. The idea to host the ICHA in Nantes again was born from within the French research network on toxic and harmful micro-algae GdR PHYCOTOX, created in 2013 as an initiative of Ifremer and CNRS. The GdR PHYCOTOX team was rapidly joined by the scientific interest group on cyanobacteria, GIS Cyano, to form a strong national scientific committee assisting the local organising committee in more scientific matters. Together, these scientific communities represent around 40 research and official laboratories working on HAB themes in France. Early on, commitment was obtained in principle from Ifremer, La Cité Nantes Events Center, the City of Nantes and the Regional Council of the Pays de la Loire Region. Twenty-five years after the last edition of this conference in Nantes both the city and our scientific community have changed much. After a long-standing history on the theme of journeys and imagination (Jules Verne’s’ novels were inspired by his early life in Nantes), the city has re-affirmed its reputation in this area with the creation of the “Machines de l’île” in 2007. Nantes was elected “European Green Capital” in 2013 and is referred to as the City of a hundred parks.
The ICHA 2018 scientific program will foster discussions and hopes to inspire participants from a wide array of themes to initiate collaborations within and across disciplines for the advancement of our field. While major culprits of public safety problems (the genera Alexandrium, Dinophysis, Pseudo-nitzschia for marine systems or Anabaena, Aphanizomenon and Microcystis for freshwater systems) still continue to thrive in our waters, many advances have been made in monitoring for these species and their toxins. Still, as the environment and anthropogenic stressors continue to change, our coastal and freshwater systems also undergo heavy changes. Therefore, our ability to detect novel or emerging organisms and their toxins become of growing importance. It also becomes clearer that the societal impacts of Harmful Algae are multiple and do not simply concern fisheries and aquaculture but increasingly so other sectors, including tourism, shipping, desalination and renewable energy supply. Therefore, we felt it important to reiterate the need to translate fundamental science into knowledge to help overcome societal challenges. We have thus placed the conference under the theme “From Ecosystems to Socio-ecosystems”.
The various thematic sessions will showcase important scientific advances and highlight impacts of harmful algae in a world of fast changes and complex interactions. We welcome all of you to attend the plenaries and oral presentations and invite you to interact with the conference participants during the early evening poster sessions, conveniently followed by our social activities. As for previous editions, the posters will be displayed throughout the whole week, allowing you multiple opportunities to have in-depth discussions on topics of your interest.
We thank the local staff, participants, session chairs, keynote and plenary speakers for helping us to build this very exciting conference program. The Local Organizing and Scientific Committees will make any possible effort to make sure that your participation will be scientifically rewarding and a pleasurable experience of our region rich in riverine and coastal activities, winemaking and history.