First session of the COFI Advisory Working Group on Aquatic Genetic Resources and Technologies, Brasilia, Brazil, 1-2 October 2015.
The relevance of the sustainable use, management and conservation of aquatic genetic resources (AqGR) for food and agriculture is relatively well known and documented, but there is still an urgent need to preserve and better manage existing aquatic diversity to enhance its contribution to food security, nutrition and livelihoods. Aquatic genetic resources for food and agriculture include thousands of species, which are found in the world's oceans, seas, lakes, reservoirs, rivers, rice paddies and other wetlands, and also in aquaculture facilities in marine, brackish and fresh waters. Unlike other sectors, all wild relatives of farmed aquatic species still exist in the wild. The establishment of the Advisory Working Group on Aquatic Genetic Resources and Technologies (Working Group) and its terms of reference were approved at the 31st session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in 2014, based on a request from the 7th Session of the FAO COFISub-Committee on Aquaculture, and in recognition of the tremendous opportunities to increase food production and improve livelihoods from the responsible use, management and conservation of aquatic genetic resources and technologies. The establishment of the Working Group will assist and provide advice to FAO on matters concerning aquatic genetic resources and technologies, and will enhance international cooperation on aquatic genetic resource management. Following FAO standard procedures for the establishment of the Working Group, ten experts were endorsed taking into consideration technical expertise, and gender and geographical balance. These members will serve a two year term with the possibility of renewal. This report contains the main discussion points and general conclusions and recommendations from the first meeting of the Working Group convened from 1-2 October 2015 in Brasilia, Brazil. The Working Group developed a general work plan which includes the following activities: (1) Establishment of a web page devoted to aquatic genetic resources and technologies under the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture web site; (2) Assistance with producing the State of the World's Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture; (3) Assistance with the FAO symposium on "Biotechnologies for aquatic genetic resources in light of food security, poverty alleviation and sustainable resource use"; (4) Revision of definitions related to genetic resources in FAO glossaries; (5) Compilation of a list of the best existing guidelines and published material on management and transfer of AqGR; and (6) Development of a roadmap for countries on minimum requirements for sustainable management, development, conservation and use of aquatic genetic resources.