Marine Genetic Resources 

Harriet Harden-Davies – Research fellow at the University of Wollongong, on the delegation of Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI) 

Marine Genetic Resources (MGR) are a fundamental part of biodiversity. They’re part of the operating system that keep our ocean healthy and keep our planet working. Their true value extends far beyond the economic to the environmental, social, and scientific.

Science is important in the MGR discussion for two reasons:

Firstly, it is about understanding MGR: what are they; why are they important; why are they an important part of ocean health; and what can we learn in order to inform decision making?

Secondly, science is crucial in accessing and sharing benefits, whether that is samples in a museum, a research cruise out in the ocean, or, the resulting data which can be used to enable informed decision-making to preserve ocean health.

Best practice in the scientific community already provides a basis for benefit sharing that can be further strengthened and streamlined under the BBNJ Agreement.

This is one of the more contentious issues in the BBNJ negotiations and it would appear that there is some way to go in seeking resolution.

Science is providing a unifying focus for these discussions and DOSI is here to highlight that there are opportunities as well as challenges for moving forward to provide that basis for the conservation and sustainable use of marine life.