The Marine Measurement Forum (MMF) is a series of one-day, non-profit making events that has been running since 1983 which provides excellent opportunities for networking and the informal exchange of ideas, knowledge, techniques and developments across an extensive range of marine scientific measurement activities.
During an MMF ‘day’ a series of short presentations on diverse marine measurement topics are interspersed with refreshment breaks that offer delegates the chance to network with like-minded colleagues.
Attendees typically include scientists, surveyors, engineers and business people from a variety of organisations including research centres, academia, manufacturers, defence organisations, survey companies, consultancies, monitoring authorities, dredging companies, port authorities, energy companies and trade associations.
Each MMF is normally hosted within southern England with occasional excursions to other parts of the UK.
Advice on all matters connected with the hosting of an MMF event is available from the Steering Group which comprises the following representatives representing Research, Manufacturing, Media and Distribution within the marine science sector:
Business Development Manager, Sonardyne International
Head of Communications, The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030
Head of Commercial Development, National Oceanography Centre
The Hydrographic Society Alumni
Managing Director, RS Aqua
The history of the Marine Measurement Forum is somewhat cloaked in mystery. However, former Steering Group member Roger Scrivens conducted considerable research into its background. Using that research, we share the following summary of the creation of our popular and long-standing series.
Initially centred in North East Hampshire, what we know today as the Marine Measurement Forum (MMF) was born out of an ad-hoc short series of lunchtime get-togethers in the early 1980s. These 'lunchtime club' meetings were held in pubs and clubs and had little if any, structure. They were, in effect, gatherings of people with the common link of 'marine' aimed at having a good old 'chinwag'.
It is believed that the long-departed Bob Cuffe, National Maritime Institute (NMI) centre, had the idea of moulding these lunchtime meetings into a one-day event where 'members' could present news on instrumentation, research, projects, and events within the broad sector of 'Marine Measurement'. And so, the MMF series was born.
MMF1 was hosted by Valeport Ltd down in Dartmouth, Devon. Subsequent hosts for MMFs 2 to 5 were BMT in Hythe, Wimpol in Swindon, Hunting Surveys in Borehamwood, and WS Ocean Systems in Haslemere. Roger Scrivens was the organiser for that 5th MMF: "I had to clear out a workshop area, hire 50 folding chairs and do whatever it took to accommodate the 50 or so audience visitors," he recalls.
During these early MMF days, a vague geographic rule developed to the effect that the MMF series was generally aimed at organisations in the south of England. However, in true MMF spirit, excursions to such locations as Birmingham and Edinburgh appear during the MMF's 1 to 50.
A critical development within MMF history occurred at the time of MMF30, which was hosted by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Southampton. With only two weeks to go to the day of the event, the NOC host Keith Birch called Roger to inform him that only a half dozen attendees had registered and the programme still had a 'few gaps'. The obvious option was to abort or postpone, but between them, Roger and Keith decided on one last push via circular emails and phone calls. On the day, a complete programme was appreciated by some 50 registrants; a successful outcome but a warning that could not be ignored.
Roger decided that the MMF series needed a Steering Group. Emerging from the premise that no one 'owned' the MMF series and that it was constructed on floating foundations, he gathered a diverse group of regular MMF attendees from Manufacturing (Andy Smerdon), Research (Keith Birch), Media (Astrid Powell) and Distribution (Roger) to oversee the general aspects of future MMF's and to draw up some basic rules of engagement. How Bob Cuffe would have hated that latter decision!
The Steering Group (SG) has met infrequently over the years, and membership has evolved through necessity, but the small collective ensures that the ethos of the MMF series remains strong. At the time of writing, as MMF65 approaches, the series looks as strong as ever.