History of MASA
Reefing the Australian Way (RTAW) Marine Aquarium Societies of Australia (MASA)
Inception of RTAW
Reefing the Australian Way was started by Melbourne marine aquarist Dallas Warren. In 1997, Dallas setup a web site called OZ REEF Marine Park which contained details on the system, articles, newsletter and online journal of Dallas' tank. Over time this grew into a reference source for marine aquarium information in general, with a slant on the Australian experience in particular. An archived snap shot of the website on the 28th November 28, 1999, can be seen here.
Already in existence were the Marine Aquarium Society of Victoria (MASOV, founded ~ 1970), and the Marine Aquarist's Society of Western Australia (MASWA, founded 1995).
In April of 2000, Dallas added a discussion board to the OZ REEF site and called it OZ REEF Notepad. Within that discussion board was a forum called Reefing the Australian Way. An archived snap shot of the forum index page on the 11th of May, 2000, can be seen here.
Around the same time, Perth aquarist & MASWA President (confirm), Nathan Cope set up an online Australian Marine Aquarists directory. This wasn't much more than a list of names and email addresses from the various states, but it was one of the first attempts to bring Australian marine aquarists together via the internet.
Both Dallas and Nathan were involved with their local state societies, MASOV and MASWA respectively, which at the time were primarily non-web based societies.
During 1999, David Macnamara and Gavan Harrison had conceived the idea of forming a society for Sydney-based aquarists, and The Marine Aquarium Society of Sydney (MASS) had its first meeting in March 2000. Whilst MASS had its own bulletin board on their website for co-ordinating society business, many members were actively participating on RTAW for general aquarium topic discussions with their interstate colleagues.
The Marine Aquarium Society of Queensland (MASQ) was formed in 2001.
Inception of MASA
The concept of a national body - Marine Aquarium Societies of Australia - had been spoken of for a while, but it really crystallised in 2001 when a coordinated response was needed to the Federal Minister for the Environment's proposal to close down the coral and live rock collection on the Great Barrier Reef. Whether or not the submissions had anything to do with the eventual reversal of that decision remains unknown, but the issue did result in a push to formalise the formation of national group to represent the interests of the various state societies.
In 2002 MASA was officially born, and run by representatives from each of the (number) societies that existed at the time. The first committee was (list from Hall of Fame)
The first MASA website was launched around the end of 2002, incorporating the forum, databases and registries. It was put together by David Macnamara, Caevan Sachinwalla and Dallas, and it was at this point that ownership of "RTAW" was handed from Dallas to MASA (although the site at that point was still hosted under Dallas' ozreef.org domain).
Development and Growth
In 2002 the MASA website was moved to masa.asn.au, see here for an archived snapshot of the site on June the 8th, 2002, when it was just being set up.
In 2004, MAS South Australia was established and grew to about 20 members almost instantly. When June 2005 came around, interest in a South Australian group dwindled and it was decided to merge the remaining SA members with the then blossoming "Orphans Group" that Lee Robson and Joel Willis were (very successfully) developing. MASAOG had been around for quite a while, but in early 2005 it became heavily promoted and was changed to cater for regional and remote reefers and also covered the capital cities of Canberra and Darwin. After the merger, MASAOG became (and still is) one of the largest Societies in terms of member volumes.
The Marine Aquarium Society of Regional Queensland was founded in 2007
Today, MASA is run by representatives from the 6 societies and continues to grow in it's role as Australia's most comprehensive online marine aquarium resource, thanks to dedicated volunteers & reefers. The current societies involved are:
- Marine Aquarium Societies of Australia Orphans Group (MASAOG)
- Marine Aquarium Society of Queensland (MASQ)
- Marine Aquarium Society of Regional Queensland (MARQ)
- Marine Aquarium Society of Sydney (MASS)
- Marine Aquarium Society of Victoria (MASOV)
- Marine Aquarium Society of Western Australia (MASWA)