Policies for the conservation and Sustainable
Use of Aquatic Genetic Resources
Fishery Resources Division
More information is available from Devin M. Bartley (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service and the Sustainable Development Department of FAO joined together with ICLARM and recently convened an international conference, Towards Policies for Conservation and Sustainable Use of Aquatic Genetic Resources in Bellagio, northern Italy. Along with written contributions and presentations, the participants of the conference produced the following "Bellagio Statement", that was forwarded to the 4th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The statement represents a consensus from those attending and may also be of interest to other international fora working in the areas of conservation and sustainable use. Conference proceedings are being edited now for publication in 1999. The work of Roger Pullin and Christine Casal (ICLARM) in making this conference a success is greatly appreciated, as is the financial contribution of the Sustainable Development Department.
An International Conference, `Towards Policies for Conservation and Sustainable Use of Aquatic Genetic Resources,' organized by the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM) in association with the Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service and the Sustainable Development Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), was held at the Bellagio Conference and Study Center of the Rockefeller Foundation, Italy, from April 14 to 18, 1998. The participants from 14 countries, contributed, from their expertise in a wide range of disciplines (aquatic biology, aquaculture, genetics, governance of natural resources, fisheries, public awareness, intellectual property rights, law, etc.), a series of papers that will be published by ICLARM and FAO in a comprehensive proceedings volume. The participants discussed, at length, the present status of and likely requirements for policies for the conservation and sustainable use of aquatic genetic resources. Pending the full publication of these discussions, the participants agreed upon the following suggestions, of particular relevance to aquatic genetic resources, for action and areas of concern, that were forwarded to the Fourth meeting of the Conference of Parties meeting in Bratislava from 4 _ 15 May, 1998.
Suggestions for Action
The provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity with respect to aquatic genetic resources remain relatively undefined. The following actions are suggested to sharpen the focus of the Convention for this sector.
Develop national curricula which integrate conservation and sustainable use of aquatic genetic resources into all levels of education.
Clearly assign national responsibilities for conservation and sustainable use of aquatic genetic resources among institutions and agencies.
Ensure international sharing of knowledge and methods through the Clearing House Mechanism and other appropriate mechanisms, including among local communities.
Broaden the biosafety debate and future protocols to include alien species and genotypes.
Operationalize the ecosystem approach including the incorporation of transboundary and cross-sectoral elements for the conservation and sustainable use of aquatic genetic resources.
Develop policies and practices for access to and benefit-sharing (monetary and non-monetary) from aquatic genetic resources.
Areas of Concern
These are areas where there is a need to clarify the conceptual, social, scientific and political bases for taking action and for new initiatives with respect to aquatic genetic resources. It is recognized that these areas will involve collaboration of the Convention on Biological Diversity with other Conventions and mechanisms.
How to establish international liability provisions for damage to or loss of aquatic genetic resources resulting from human interventions including, inter alia, habitat change, overharvesting, and the impacts of alien species and genotypes including living modified organisms.
How to provide for the protection and reward of knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities and individuals, and how to relate these provisions to intellectual property right regimes.
How to apportion some of the benefits from the exploitation of aquatic genetic resources that are found outside national jurisdiction, such as straddling stocks, highly migratory fishes and high seas fish stocks, towards their conservation and sustainable use.
Recognize that in the formulation of biosafety policy and regulations for living modified organisms, the characteristics of the organisms and of potentially accessible environments are more important considerations than the processes used to produce those organisms.
Front row from left to right: Anil Gupta, Madadugu Gupta, Roberto Neira, Peter Smith, Carlos Correa, Dan Mires, Christina Leria, Rainer Froese.
Second row left to right: Elliot Entis, Yuan Wang, Anne Kapuscinski, Christine Casal, Eddie Abban, Peter Schei, Roger Pullin, Carey Fowler, Ruth Raymond, Devin Bartley.
Back row left to right: David Penman, Jan Kooiman, Brian Harvey, Robin Welcomme.