Evolving Legal Regimes, Market Structures and Biology Affecting Access to and Protection of Aquaculture Genetic Resources

Aquaculture, Vols 402-403, 2013, pp. 97-105

The maturing aquaculture sector currently faces a number of challenges relating to the objectives of sustainability, conservation, equity and access to and legal protection of genetic resources. The study investigates, through interviews, how actors in the aquaculture sector perceive their options with a view to accessing aquatic genetic material and to protecting innovations in breeding. Moreover, the study analyses how corporate strategies, technological developments, and international regulatory regimes are perceived to affect these options, building also on scientific literature and other legal and policy documents. Included are comparisons of findings from Norwegian case studies on Atlantic salmon and Atlantic cod with similar studies on marine shrimp in India and tilapia in South East Asia and Africa.

Aquaculture is increasingly characterized by pressure toward higher production efficiency and short-term profits. Hence, actors in the aquaculture sector face emerging difficulties pertaining to affordable access to improved breeding material and technology, while also securing adequate funding for sustainable breeding programmes. Public ownership or support seems to be important measures to balance these objectives that may otherwise be hard to combine. This is particularly the case during the early phases of implementation and operation of applied aquaculture breeding programs.