Aquatic Genetic Resources - A valuable and unexplored reserve of biodiversity for food and agriculture

A Global Plan of Action on Aquatic Genetic Resources

The second session of the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITWG-AqGR) proposed the development of a Global Plan of Action (GPA) on aquatic genetic resources (AqGR) and the 17th Session the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Commission) requested FAO to "prepare a draft Global Plan of Action (GPA) for Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture for consideration by the Working Group (ITWG-AqGR) and the Commission at their next sessions". The Commission further agreed that the GPA should be prepared upon consultation with the regions and in collaboration with COFI and its relevant subsidiary bodies. It was further noted that the GPA should be voluntary and collaborative and be implemented in line with the needs and priorities of member countries.

What is a Global Plan of Action?

A GPA for AqGR, when endorsed by FAO and its member countries, will provide a framework for the promotion of enhanced and effective conservation, sustainable use and development of these resources. Its development and implementation will build on the momentum achieved through the preparation and publication of the Report on The State of the World's Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and act as a catalyst for countries to develop national and regional strategies for effective management of their AqGR and promote the development of globally applicable resources (e.g. information systems) to support the development of such strategies.

What will be the focus of a Global Plan of Action on Aquatic Genetic Resources?

The four Strategic Priority Areas for a Global Plan of Action on AqGR
The four Strategic Priority Areas for a Global Plan of Action on AqGR

The Report on The State of the World's Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture identified some characteristics of AqGR that differ significantly from terrestrial genetic resources including that AqGR are relatively under developed with many farmed species still be essentially wild type, with adoption of proven genetic improvement programmes progressing relatively slowly. As a result, the GPA for AqGR will differ somewhat in emphasis from the GPAs that already exist for plant, animal and forest genetic resources and will include a high-level Priority Area of accelerating the development of AqGR for aquaculture.