Friday, February 17, 2012: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Room 201 (VCC West Building)Who owns the biological diversity in the world's oceans? The oceans cover about 71 percent of the Earth's surface, average 3.8 km in depth, and contain the greatest reservoir of unexplored genetic potential on the planet. Yet, unlike almost all terrestrial and coastal systems, life in the oceans falls outside the jurisdiction, ownership, and protection of any state or international agreement. Our understanding of marine biological diversity and the associated genetic resources is rooted in science, but the ownership and management of these resources lies in the arena of international dialog and policy stemming from law. Nations have grappled with the concept of fair and equitable sharing of Marine Genetic Resources (MGRs) under the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea and Biological Diversity; yet, there is no agreement on sharing MGRs in areas beyond national jurisdiction. This scenario is troubling given that the rate of patent applications is rapidly increasing and the most developed nations hold almost all patent claims exploiting MGRs. Recent efforts to capture the oceans' genetic diversity and its distribution have revealed the enormous biological potential archived in MGRs. This session will outline efforts to create a baseline understanding of marine biodiversity, explore pathways for researchers to develop robust solutions to legal and policy issues surrounding MGRs, and provide real-world models of fair and equitable sharing of benefits realized from their exploitation.
Curtis A. Suttle, University of British Columbia
Carlos M. Duarte, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) and the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB)