The history of the European Marine Biology Symposia dates back to 1960 when a series of German marine biological symposia was initiated by Otto Kinne, Director of the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland. These Symposia attracted marine scientists from outside Germany and it was realized that European participation should be encouraged. In answers to a questionnaire sent out in 1965, 98% were in favor of European Marine Biology Symposium being held at regular intervals; 65% were against affiliation to any existing international bodies. As a result the first European Marine Biology Symposium was held on Helgoland in early autumn 1966.
Such was the success of this meeting that Symposia have been held annually since 1966. To date they have been organized in about 20 different European countries, some having been visited more than once, attracting marine scientists not just from Europe but from all over the world. Details concerning topics for discussion at the Symposia and all aspects of organization are left to the inviting institution. One, or sometimes two or three topics are chosen which normally reflect the interest of the inviting body. This restricts somewhat the number of participants but allows for an efficient exchange of ideas and discussions.
At the first meeting in Helgoland an ad hoc Committee was organized consisting of a representative from each European country attending that meeting. Such a Committee meets during each year's Symposium. The purpose of the Committee meeting is to ensure the informal nature of these Symposia and their continuity, and also to give advice to inviting institutions when necessary. There is a President, who holds office for 3 years and is supported by a Secretary. The late Harold Barnes of the Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory, Scotland, was elected the first President. He was followed by presidents coming from France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Austria and Wales.
The first EMBS were held at Helgoland in 1966 and hosted by Biologische Anstalt Helgoland. But already in 1967 the 2th EMBS was arranged in Bergen, Norway with University of Bergen as host. Also the 18th EMBS was arranged in Norway (Oslo) with University of Oslo and Norwegian Institute of Water Research as hosts.
29 years lather the EMBS-arrangement is back in Norway (Arendal) with Institute of Marine Research as host. The 47th EMBS will be take place in Arendal, Norway, September 3 – 7, 2012.