CIESM Atlas of exotic species - bureaucratic madness!

November 20, 2008
From: Bill Rudman

Earlier this year I raised the question of access to this Atlas [message #21469]. Today I have received another message [#22066 ] which brings up the access question again:

On the Lessesian migration Fact Sheet I have a link to the Mediterranean Science Commission's CIESM Atlas of Exotic Species in the Mediterranean Sea. In the past I have used this site to check earlier records of exotic opisthobranchs in the Mediterranean. Earlier this year I discovered I could not access the site because I was not a citizen of a 'Member State':

"You have requested access to CIESM products that are delivered free of charge only to the Member States of our Commission that support our activities. For all other visitors like you, downloading from Australia, a participation fee (1.50 €) is applied for this product."

I thought the point of such websites was to spread information widely for the good of us all. What is particularly galling is that this site makes full use of the freely available results produced by scientists worldwide to produce their database. They have made extensive use of the Sea Slug Forum in the past and I am sure they will continue to do so. They have never asked for permission or offered to pay for this information so why should they expect me to pay to look at my own records when all I am trying to do is to further their aims. 1.50 € may seem a trifling amount so why do I complain? The whole purpose of such databases is to provide up to date information - so to use them properly they need to be checked regularly - so every time I do this I will have to pay another 1.50 € and bank charges etc. What is the point in this government body charging? It will hardly generate enough funds to buy a bureaucrat a fancy chair! Government bodies such as CIESM should be encouraging the public to support their activities - which have already been paid for by the member governments. Surely the governing committee just by looking at the contributions to their site must realise that the expertise they need is to be found all around the world, not just in their member countries. After all, the 'exotic species' being recorded will by definition be from outside Europe and so be better known by scientists from outside the 'Member States".

Petty imposts like this completely destroy the aim of the internet to be a means for the fast and free exchange of information worldwide. Today's question demonstrates the pettiness of this charge: To study the background of today's question, I as a non-member, would need to pay 1.50 € to answer a question from a citizen of a member state, who pays nothing. I would like to thank those participants from member states, with free access, who have offered to check things on the Atlas for me - but it is not the same as being able to personally browse.  

I have just written to the CIESM Editorial Board. If anyone else would like to ask then to rethink this charge here are their email addresses:

Frédéric Briand,  Director General, CIESM
Ferdinando Boero
Maria Grazia Mazzocchi
Costas Papaconstantinou
Giulio Relini
Helmut Zibrowius

Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2008 (Nov 20) CIESM Atlas of exotic species - bureaucratic madness!. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Related messages

  1. Re: CIESM Atlas of exotic species - bureaucratic madness!
    From: Bill Rudman, October 5, 2009
  2. Re: Lessepsian migration, need of a separate term?
    From: Cynthia Trowbridge, February 28, 2005
  3. Re:Lessepsian migration
    From: Lindsay Warren, February 28, 2005
  4. Lessepsian migration, need of a separate term?
    From: Jim Lyle, February 25, 2005
  5. the term 'lessepsian' and the Panama Canal
    From: Nishina Masayoshi, March 9, 2002

Show factsheet and all related messages