Work Package 6: Ethics, Policy and Legal Aspects of Access and Use of Marine Genetic Resources

The access to, and use of, Marine Genetic Resources (MGR) is subject to a complex framework of national regulations and international conventions which were generally not designed to cater for the harvesting of material for biodiscovery purposes. The high-level aim of this work package is to provide clear recommendations and practical solutions to address critical policy and legal barriers which impede the access and sustainable use of marine bioresources for European biotechnological research, development and commercialisation. Ultimately, a web-based, fully interactive, toolkit will be developed to assist MGR practitioners in navigating the different legal and policy regimes involved in access to MGR and associated benefit sharing. This will be embedded into the website of an international organisation to ensure its longevity beyond the lifetime of the project itself.

The specific objectives of PharmaSea work package 6 are:

- To create a platform that will bring together marine biodiscovery practitioners with legal experts, policy makers and other relevant stakeholders to identify and provide solutions to the key policy issues and legal barriers in the marine biodiscovery pipeline.

- To assess and report on the existing ABS landscape relevant to the sustainable use of MGRs for academic and industrial research, focusing on current efforts towards harmonizing European legislation on ABS, options for an ABS system for MGR in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJs) and the disparity between the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the need to protect research investments by securing intellectual property rights.

- To provide information services, model agreements and best practice guidelines to address identified legal and policy barriers, based on investigations of a limited number of selected case studies.

- To develop a dynamic, web-based, PharmaSea “toolkit” for marine biodiscovery practitioners, containing comprehensive and practical information to assist users in navigating the legal frameworks surrounding access to MGR.

To help achieve these objectives, Work Package 6 of PharmaSea will convene an advisory panel of policy and legal experts (APPLE). Essentially, the APPLE will be an advisory board for Work Package 6 but will have relevance to the full PharmaSea project. It will bring together the breadth of experience necessary to focus the direction of WP6 activities towards addressing the critical policy and legal barriers which currently hinder progress in innovative marine biotechnology in Europe.