The history of the flatfish symposia dates back to 1988. At the ICES Early Life History Symposium in Bergen, Norway, Ray Beverton stimulated a group of young scientists to set up an international forum to discuss and exchange their ideas and results with respect to their research on flatfishes. An organizing committee was formed and in 1990 the first international symposium was held at the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), Texel, The Netherlands. At the first symposium a need for continuation was deemed imperative and it was decided to continue organizing an international symposium on flatfish ecology with a three years interval for as long as this need remained.
In the beginning of the flatfish symposia, NIOZ played a central role by hosting the first three symposia in 1990, 1993 and 1996. In 1999, the flatfish symposium was organized by North Carolina State University, in Atlantic Beach NC, USA, and in 2002 by The University of Liverpool's Port Erin Marine Laboratory, Port Erin, Isle of Man. The 2005 symposium was held at Maizuru, Japan, organized by Kyoto University.
From the beginning of the symposia onwards, the basic underpinning philosophy of the symposia has remained the same: it should be an informal international platform of high scientific quality for exchange of ideas and results and for the strengthening of international cooperation. To meet these scientific goals, the symposia should be challenging and the topics should have continuity over time (e.g. develop a research agenda). Thus far the objectives have been achieved: the number of participants has not been excessively high over the years (100-150 persons to enhance the active involvement of all participants in the discussions); the topic of each symposium was based on the results of the previous symposium and the contributions were, after a critical reviewing procedure, published in special volumes of an international scientific journal.
To date the proceedings of the flatfish symposium have been published in the Journal of Sea Research and at present there is no reason to change this. The Steering Committee is responsible for the negotiations with the publisher concerning costs, numbers of issues and numbers of pages. Traditionally guest editors are Henk van der Veer and Richard Nash and the local organizer, in this case Henrique Cabral (all members of the steering committee).