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    BIOLOGICAL PROSPECTING IN THE SOUTHERN OCEAN, A ROLE FOR CCAMLR

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    Document Number:
    CCAMLR-XXVII/BG/36
    Author(s):
    Submitted by IUCN
    Abstract

    The issue of bioprospecting has been a constant item on the agenda of ATCM since 2003. Last June, ATCM XXXI discussed the report from an Intersessional Contact Group (ICG) that was established to examine the issue of Biological Prospecting in the Antarctic Treaty Area. Although increasingly used in International legal and policy frameworks addressing genetic resources, the term bioprospecting is not defined in any international convention or agreement. Indeed, there remains a range of views in the literature and in policy circles as to what bioprospecting involves. Definitions differ largely on how far ‘bioprospecting’ extends down the commercialisation path, and whether it includes the development process of the biocompound through to full scale commercialization and marketing. This makes it difficult to generalize any legal implications of “bioprospecting” and even harder to draw implications of this activity on resource management. Much of the debate to date in relation to marine genetic resources beyond national jurisdiction has centred on evidence of emerging commercial interest in the genetic resources of the deep sea. The private sector involvement in research related to marine resources may have delayed the publication of research results, which would explain the lack of publicly available information on genetic resources from the deep sea and in particular from Southern Ocean. This also raises the question of the public availability of data in the framework of the Antarctic Treaty which promotes free scientific information exchange. The paper provides a summary of information on research and commercialised products arising from biological samples that were sourced from the Antarctic region provided by the Antarctic Biological Prospecting Database. 56% of the records in the database originate from the marine environment of the Southern Ocean. Krill make up 60% of the marine records, while fish and other vertebrates come in second at 10%. Of those records, the majority relate to fish, with one record relating to the King Penguin. The rest of the records include marine algae (10%), sponges and tunicates (7%), and bacteria (6%). Finally the paper discusses some the evolving aspects of the regulations of bioprospecting of marine genetic resources beyond national jurisdiction and the relevance of some CCAMLR provisions, in particular the Convention’s reporting requirements outlined in Article 20 and monitoring requirement pursuant to Article 2.

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