Marine Genetic Resources

Image courtesy of Verena Tunnicliffe, University of Victoria, Canada

The Issue: The genetic resources of the deep sea can be can be utilised for a range of different applications, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food, industrial processes and scientific research, to provide several potential benefits. The fair and equitable sharing of benefits from genetic resources is inextricably linked to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in areas both within and beyond national jurisdiction. Access to deep-sea genetic resources  and the sharing of benefits arising from their use is a topic of critical importance in the development of a new international agreement for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (See DOSI BBNJ working group). However, it is unclear how access to MGR can be facilitated in practice and how benefits could be effectively derived and equitably shared. Bridging deep-sea science with international law is important to understand and address these challenges.

The Working Group: The marine genetic resources working group aims to explore and identify options for conserving and sustainably utilising MGR, including questions relating to access and benefit sharing of these resources. It currently has 87 members from around the globe.

Current Activities:

  • Re-visit MGR in ABNJ questions raised by 2016 survey
    1. Access to MGR – code of conduct? Facilitating scientific research?
    2. Data and samples
    3. Capacity Development
    4. Expand focus to include areas within national jurisdiction? Facilitate addressing issues such as Genetic sequence data?
  • Consideration of cross-cutting issues: funding, institutional frameworks, enabling policy environments for interdisciplinary, international and cross-sectoral collaboration.

Past Activities (in reverse chronological order):

Aberdeen workshop participants, June 2018