Access to Genetic Resources and ‘Rings of Protection’ in Indian Shrimp Aquaculture

FNI Report 5/2012. Lysaker, FNI, 2012, 30 p.

This study examines the global and national factors affecting India’s policy on access and rights in relation to the shrimp sector. Shrimp aquaculture in India has witnessed recent changes that illustrate the complexities involved in establishing a framework for importing improved breeding material, and ensuring access to aquatic genetic resources. Historically, the shrimp sector in India has been mainly based on public sector led investments along with the private sector involvement for increasing production, and developing and widely disseminating material, rather than creating proprietary products. This structure is undergoing changes with the Government of India’s recent steps to acquire improved material and to permit import of an exotic species. In tune with global trends, foreign companies are using biological and technological strategies (‘rings of protection’) rather than IPRs to protect their materials in India. This study finds that although stakeholders do not currently perceive the implications of such structural and legal shifts, restrictions on access could pose a real challenge to the Indian shrimp sector. Dependence on imported material, monopoly situations, future demands for IPRs, greater privatization and commercialization are outlined as factors that could restrict access to resources for stakeholders. This study points out the implications of international developments with regard to access and rights, and outlines various policy options that India could pursue to balance rights and access to aquatic genetic resources.