Part I Sectoral Issues: Marine Genetic Resources as an Example


The following papers were developed as initial inquiries into the possible value of contributing some expert understanding of ABS into the work of the international marine sector, through the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the UN Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (UNICPOLOS). Those discussions, although specifically described as addressing ‘genetic resources’ had not been informed about, nor seriously considered the nature of that concept, including the problems of determining what sort of resources are genetic resources and which are normal biological resources. As a consequence, most UNICPOLOS and UNCLOS discussions relating to genetic resources focused on issues of sustainable use and avoidance of collection practices that damage or destroy the ecosystem under study. While these issues, and the entire concept of marine conservation are of critical importance and interest, they are obviously not ‘ABS issues.’

The following are two initial papers, commissioned by the Project, presenting actual ‘genetic-resource facts’ and identifying the ABS issues that are most relevant to oceans beyond national jurisdiction and the law of the sea. As noted in Chapter 11, these papers are only the beginning of the most important process in this sector – finding a way to inform the biodiversity sector about marine issues, and the marine sector about biodiversity issues.

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