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Aquatic Genetic Resources

Aquatic genetic resources make vital contributions to global food security and provide important livelihood opportunities and income for many fishing and farming families. The world’s wealth of aquatic genetic resources provides the aquaculture and fisheries sector with great potential to further enhance its contributions to food security and to meeting the challenge of feeding a growing human population.  It underpins the productivity and sustainability of world aquaculture and capture fisheries, and the essential services provided by aquatic ecosystems in marine, brackish and freshwaters.

However, despite estimates that by 2030 an additional 40 million tonnes of fish per year will be required in order to meet global demand, the opportunities offered by the wealth of fish genetic diversity remain largely unrealized and unexplored. The characterisation and conservation of aquatic genetic resources has taken on a sense of urgency that reflects the pressures on the Earth’s aquatic ecosystems and habitats. As capture fisheries reach, and sometimes extend beyond, the limits of their biological productivity, aquaculture currently plays and will play an increasingly important role in meeting the needs for fish and fish products from an ever-increasing human population.

The work undertaken by FAO on aquatic genetic resources for food and agriculture aims to: 

  • strengthen global governance
  • promote development and sustainable use
  • improve management and technical capacities
  • lead consensus-building towards improved conservation and responsible use in member countries.

In 2007, the Commission called upon its Members to initiate steps to determine the current state of the world’s aquatic genetic resources. Work, supported by FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and by the Commission, found that valuable information, with potential to contribute to improving the management of fish genetic resources, is scattered, kept in a range of incompatible formats, and is often difficult to access and poorly archived.

The State of the World’s Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture is the first global assessment based on national reporting on aquatic genetic resources for food and agriculture. The focus of the Report is on farmed aquatic species and their wild relatives, within national jurisdictions.

The Report provides a comprehensive global assessment of, inter alia, the status, use and exchange, drivers and trends, conservation efforts, stakeholders, policies and legislation, research, education, training and extension, and international collaboration relevant to AqGR.