Regional workshop for the development of a global plan of action on aquatic genetic resource
07 December 2020
- The Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nation (FAO) Subregional Office for the Gulf Cooperation Council and Yemen (SNG) organized a regional virtual workshop for the Near East countries to assist FAO in developing and information system and a global plan of action (GPA) for aquatic genetic resources (AqGR)
FAO Subregional Office for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Yemen organized a virtual workshop on the development of a global information system for farmed types of Aquatic Genetic Resources, as well as on a Global Plan of Action on Aquatic Genetic Resources. Participants from UAE, Kuwait, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia met to consult and contribute to the global initiative. This workshop follows similar workshops held earlier in the year in Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
Dr. Lionel Dabbadie, Senior Fisheries and Aquaculture Officer in the Subregional Office (SNG) highlighted the importance of such meeting to sustain aquatic biodiversity and ensure effective management of genetic resources for future food security and aquatic conservation in the GCC states and Yemen. He empathized that “fish production for human consumption has increased sevenfold since 1950. In 2018, we collectively consumed 20.5 kg per person and per year, reaching an all-time record of 179 million tonnes. For millions around the globe, fish is a major source of livelihood, income, nutrition and well-being. The future of this resource is thus of utmost importance to ensure our future but unfortunately, threats on its sustainability are also real”.
In 2018, the number of overexploited fish stocks continued to increase, although 78.8 percent of the volume harvested from the seas still come from sustainably exploited wild stocks. Reversing this trend by achieving sustainable fisheries is a necessity, not an aspiration, because the price of failing to do so will be unacceptable. Management is the best strategy to ensure that tomorrow, we will still be able to consume the fish we like. But developing aquaculture is another option, which has already allowed the individual consumption of aquatic products to double since 1960, while human population doubled.
However, aquaculture is still in its infancy, and a recent survey by FAO found that most farmed aquatic organisms are still highly similar to their wild relatives. The main consequence is that aquaculture has not yet lost the genetic variation present in the wild (as has occurred for terrestrial species) but also does not yet benefit from the gains of sustainable selective breeding, which can increase productivity of aquatic species by 10 percent per generation. It is important to conserve and retain genetic diversity to enable our cultured resources to adapt to new environments or to natural and human-induced impacts such as climate change or new diseases. As stated by Dr. Graham Mair, Senior Aquaculture Officer in FAO headquarters: “Implementing genetic improvement in aquaculture to develop new farmed types is a necessity that must go together with the conservation of the variability in aquatic genetic resources, to preserve the integrity of our aquatic ecosystems but also to maintain our future capacity to develop new or improved farmed strains for our own food security.”
A Global Plan of Action on aquatic genetic resources
The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture requested FAO to develop a Global Plan of Action for AqGR (GPA) in response to the recent report on the State of the World’s Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. This is currently being developed in response to a series of consultations with FAO Members Nations This regional workshop will ensure that the concerns and expertise of GCC states and Yemen are well taken into consideration by the GPA. The specific objectives of the workshop are to identify the key stakeholders for the information system on AqGR in the region, to evaluate and get recommendations on the Registry system for farmed types and to review the draft objectives, principles, overall structure and potential strategic priorities of the Global Plan of Action on Aquatic Genetic Resources.