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Policy and Practice Reviews ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00520

Access to Marine Genetic Resources (MGR): raising awareness of best-practice through a new agreement for biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ)

 Muriel Rabone1,  Tammy Horton2, Harriet Harden-Davies3,  Sabine Zajderman4,  Ward Appeltans5,  Gabriele Droege6*,  Angelika Brandt7,  Liliana Pardo Lopez8, Thomas G. Dahlgren9, 10, 11,  Adrian Glover1 and Jane Collins12, 13
  • 1Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, United Kingdom
  • 2National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
  • 3Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, University of Wollongong, Australia
  • 4Institute of Marine and Environmental Law, Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • 5Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (Belgium), Belgium
  • 6Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum, Germany
  • 7Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt, Germany
  • 8Instituto de Biotecnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico
  • 9Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 10Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre, Sweden
  • 11NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, Norway
  • 12Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, Belgium
  • 13ABS-int, Belgium

Better knowledge of the little known deep sea and areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) is key to conservation, an urgent need in light of increasing environmental change. Access to marine genetic resources (MGR) for the biodiversity research community to allow these environments to be better characterised is therefore essential. Negotiations have commenced under the auspices of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to develop a new treaty to further the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in ABNJ. It is timely to consider the relevant issues with the development of the treaty underway. Currently uncertainties surround the legal definition of MGR and scope of related benefit-sharing, against a background of regional and global governance gaps in ABNJ. These complications are mirrored in science, with recent major advances in the field of genomics, but variability in handling of the resulting increasing volumes of data. Here we attempt to define the concept of MGR from a scientific perspective, review current practices for the generation of and access to MGR from ABNJ in the context of relevant regulations, and illustrate the utility of best-practice with reference to recent examples. We contribute recommendations with a view to strengthen best-practice in accessibility of MGR, including: funder recognition of the central importance of taxonomy; support of museums/collections for long-term sample curation; open access to data; usage and further development of globally recognised data standards and existing platforms; publishing of datasets via open-access, quality controlled and standardised data systems and open access journals; commitment to best-practice workflows; a global registry of cruises; and lastly development of a clearing house to further centralised access to the above. We argue that commitment to best-practice would allow greater sharing of MGR for research and extensive secondary use including conservation and environmental monitoring, and provide an exemplar for access and benefit-sharing (ABS) to inform the biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) process.

Keywords: Marine genetic resources (MGR), data standards, Open access, ABNJ, BBNJ, access and benefit sharing (ABS), OBIS, GGBN

Received: 22 Feb 2019; Accepted: 09 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Rabone, Horton, Harden-Davies, Zajderman, Appeltans, Droege, Brandt, Pardo Lopez, Dahlgren, Glover and Collins. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mrs. Gabriele Droege, Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum, Berlin, Germany, g.droege@bgbm.org