As you are all aware, due to the COVID-19 pandemic we were unfortunately forced to postpone the 14th ICRS from July 2020 to July 2021. We now realize that the pandemic may also affect ICRS 2021 because of the enduring risk of infection, related travel restrictions, and implementation limitations.
These circumstances represent a clear financial and logistical challenge for us organizers of the 14th ICRS. We committed ourselves to host an unforgettable ICRS 2021 on-site event in Bremen. We strongly believe in the importance of face-to-face networking and the development of personal contacts that such a global conference (which only takes place every 4 years) provides to all participants. This goes far beyond the mere exchange of scientific content. And that is why we are trying our best to make this event happening.
To accommodate the above considerations, we have now started to develop a hybrid strategy that combines the planned ICRS 2021 On-Site event from July 18-23 in Bremen with ICRS 2021 Online. This will provide not only on-site, but also online participants the opportunity to have their work evaluated, seen, and discussed by the coral reef community. The detailed implementation of this strategy strongly depends on the development of the pandemic, the availability of additional funding, and the number of registered on-site & online participants. When we have all necessary information, we will announce the detailed strategy for ICRS 2021 Hybrid.
Due to the outlined strategy, we extend the deadline for abstract submission until October 15th. This provides the opportunity to participate on-site, online, or both – and gives the necessary time to prepare new abstracts.
We now particularly invite abstracts from people that want to join online only, but of course also abstracts from people that want to join on-site can be submitted until the new deadline. During the submission process, people are now asked to indicate if their submission should be presented online only. We have introduced this in order to get more quantitative information about the interest for the online component of ICRS 2021 Hybrid. As with the on-site submissions, all new abstracts will be evaluated for quality in a double-blind mode, and abstract submitters will be notified of acceptance by the end of 2020.
Only during registration (opens in early 2021), participants decide whether they want to present and register for the on-site event, online only, or both components of ICRS 2021 Hybrid. This means that participants who have already submitted their abstracts can switch to the online presentation later during registration, if the development of the pandemic makes this necessary. Registration fees for the online only option will be approximately 50 % of the rate for the on-site event.
We hope that ICRS 2021 Hybrid is an attractive format that accommodates everyone interested in joining ICRS 2021, while allowing a high level of flexibility for all in these difficult times.
All the best and kind greetings from Bremen,
Christian Wild on behalf of the organizing committee for ICRS 2021