Strategies and Regulations Pertaining to Access to and Legal Protection of Aquaculture Genetic Resources

FNI Report 7/2005. Lysaker, FNI, 2005, 27 p.

A central socio-economic challenge in fish breeding arises from issues relating to access to and exclusive rights to genetic resources. Breeding companies need some form of legal or biological protection measures to assure revenues from genetic improvement and investment in genetic material. Fish farmers and fish breeders need access to genetic resources for food production and further development and sustainable use of fish genetic material. How can balance be created between the need for unencumbered and free access on one hand and the need to ensure a right to the results from breeding and research on the other? This report aims to bring together the perspectives from the international and domestic legal processes with the needs and perceptions of actors in the aquaculture sector. The work is organised in three parts. First we provide a brief outline of the rationale for ensuring access to and for using legal measures for protection of breeding materials in aquaculture. The second part of the study then follows, where we present three dimensions that will presumably affect choices pertaining to protection and the scope for access to fish genetic resources. First, we look into the awareness among actors of the emerging domestic and international regulations of genetic resources. Second, we study the evolving structures within the aquaculture sector itself. Third, we examine how technological developments and biological features present options and barriers, which will also affect choices relating to access and property right issues to fish genetic resources. In this third section we discuss in depth the options available.