Call for Papers

The Call for Papers is now closed.

The abstract notifications will be made available on March 1st, 2019.


The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF)’s World Maritime Rescue Congress takes place every four years. It is, we believe, the largest event of its kind in the world. It is open to all with an interest in search and rescue. The 2019 Congress will be held in Vancouver, Canada, June 15-18, 2019.

Sunday June, 16 and Monday June, 17 will be devoted to a conference based on talks, discussions and workshops. The conference sessions will be divided into three threads, running concurrently, enabling Congress attendees to choose the subjects that most interest them.

Congress theme, and thread headings

The overall theme for WMRC 2019 is Learning from the Past; Looking to the Future – Maritime Search and Rescue in a Dynamic Operational Environment.

The headings of the three conference threads are:

  • ‘SAR operations today’
  • ‘Sharing SAR lessons’
  • ‘The future of SAR’

Thread sub-headings

The following examples are provided as guidance. These are subjects that the program working group would like to see covered during the Congress, but the list is not exclusive. The working group will carefully consider other subjects proposed.

Several of the sub-headings will fit in more than one thread. This is to provide flexibility. The working group will decide where to place papers submitted as the program is filled in.

SAR operations today

  • Water safety and drowning prevention – the role of education in reducing the number and/or severity of maritime emergencies
  • SAR mission coordination – best practices and recent developments
  • SAR in the broader context – complex incidents and consequence management
  • SAR in remote locations – how to conduct SAR operations when resources are few in number and/or have severely limited capability
  • Promoting women in SAR – women tend to be under-represented in maritime SAR: how should we address this poor use of resource?
  • SAR in a greener world – what SAR organizations can do to reduce their own environmental impact, and in the face of marine pollution generally
  • SAR across boundaries – SAR organizations sometimes need to work in political environments where the lifesaving imperative runs up against others
  • Working with industry – planning and responding with the passenger shipping and other key industries

Sharing SAR lessons

This is a major function of the IMRF, as will be acknowledged in the 2019 edition of IMO & ICAO’s International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual.

  • Improving inter-agency communications – why does the SAR community seem to find sharing lessons difficult, and what can be done about it?
  • Specific SAR operational lessons
  • Supporting SAR development – how best to support governmental and non-governmental organizations, especially start-up organizations, in developing maritime SAR capability
  • Social media: helping or hurting? – how to manage social media input
  • Getting the message out – SAR, public safety and social media
  • Personal experiences
  • Managing traumatic stress – post-traumatic stress among SAR responders and how organizations should be aware of and manage it

The future of SAR

The emphasis in this thread will be on future challenges and possible solutions. Subjects likely to be included would be:

  • New technologies and innovation, including remotely-piloted aircraft and autonomous vessels
  • SAR software and simulation
  • Recruitment, retention, training and people management, including volunteers
  • Developing maritime SAR capacity locally, especially with and within indigenous communities
  • Financing what we do in a difficult economic climate – a focus on different funding models, predicted changes over time, new developments, key messages and innovative campaigning
  • SAR challenges in a world of political turmoil
  • Our SAR working environment

Speakers will be asked to present their subjects in the light of the overall theme and the thread headings and sub-headings. The program working group will assign accepted presentations to one of the three threads as appropriate.

Submission of papers for consideration

Abstracts will be accepted for consideration from  October 19, 2018, with a deadline of February 15, 2019.

Abstracts should:

  • Identify their author, including contact details
  • Identify any other copyright owners, including contact details
  • Include a heading describing the subject to be covered in the paper
  • Show how the paper relates to the Congress’s main and subsidiary themes.
  • Provide a detailed summary of the paper’s contents, including
    • aspects that would be covered in a presentation at WMRC 2019
    • additional material proposed for publication, if any

Having considered your abstract, the program working group will advise if a speaking slot can be made available to you. If it cannot, a poster session and/or publication opportunity may be made available. In all cases the IMRF’s decision, advised by the program working group, will be final.

If your paper is accepted, the program working group will keep you advised as to when it can be presented. You may, with the working group’s consent, make minor alterations to your abstract, up to May 1, 2019.

Speaking opportunities and publication

Speaking slots in the main conference will be strictly limited to 15 minutes, not including questions or discussion. Please note that session chairs will be asked to enforce the 15 minute limit, to ensure that all speakers, and their audiences, are treated fairly.

‘Poster sessions’ will be available as an alternative to speaking in the main congress. These will be opportunities for informal presentations and/or discussions in the Congress exhibition space.

Authors / presenters must ensure that they, and the IMRF, have permission to use any copyrighted material, including images etc.

The IMRF will publish papers submitted as part of the Congress proceedings, online, in free downloadable pdf format. The IMRF may also seek the author’s permission to make other use of the material submitted. Copyright will remain with the author, who may refuse or limit permission to publish or otherwise use her or his material: the IMRF will rigorously respect any such limitation.

Authors may submit amended documents for publication, including more or less detail as they wish. The IMRF reserves the right not to publish an amended document if any concerns it gives rise to cannot be resolved with the author.

Congress fees and speakers’ expenses

The IMRF regrets that it cannot cover speakers’ expenses at the World Maritime Rescue Congress. The IMRF is a charity, seeking to improve maritime SAR capability worldwide; and Congress fees are deliberately kept lower than comparable commercial events, to better enable SAR people to attend. Speakers’ travel and accommodation expenses must therefore be their own responsibility.

However, speakers accepted by the program working group, and approved by the IMRF, may attend the Congress at discounted rates. For more information, please visit: Registration Information

If you are not an IMRF member, and would like to inquire about membership, please email info at

Important dates

  • Abstract Submission Deadline: Extended to February 15, 2019 (23:59 PST)
  • Author Notification of Acceptance: On a rolling basis from the date of submission with session information on March 1, 2019
  • Abstract Presentation Confirmation Deadline: March 10, 2019
  • Presenting Author Registration Deadline: May 1, 2019
  • Presenting Author and Abstract Title Changes Deadline: May 1, 2019

Further information

For further information, please contact wmrc2019-speakers at

We look forward to hearing from you!

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