FAO Virtual Workshop: Development of a Global Information System for Aquatic Genetic Resources


This entire week from 8-12 June 2020 at 14:00 – 15:30 (UTC+8) on Zoom, the FAO Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Aquatic Genetic Resources (ITWG-AqGR), a subsidiary body of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Commission) is holding a virtual workshop titled “Development of a Global Information System for Aquatic Genetic Resources” 

FAO is calling together global researchers and strategic partners to connect virtually and discuss the strategic priorities for a global action plan, as well as priority stakeholders, indicators and standardized nomenclature and terminology in the description and categorization of Aquatic Genetic Resources (AqGR). Not one to miss out an important event, Fish Genetics Scientist Trong Trinh is taking an active role as an observer on behalf of WorldFish. So let’s give Trong our endless support!

Background and objectives of the event:

FAO has recently published its report on the State of the World’s Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Sow AqGR). This report identified a number of important needs and challenges in the conservation, sustainable use and development of aquatic genetic resources (AqGR). One of the major priorities identified was to “Establish and strengthen national and global characterization, monitoring and information system for AqGR”. This priority includes: 

  • Promotion of a globally standardized use of terminology, nomenclature and descriptions of AqGR
  • Improved and harmonized reporting procedures and expanded existing species-based information systems to cover unreported AqGR, including aquatic plants, ornamental species and microorganisms
  • The development, promotion and commercialization/institutionalization of national, regional and global standardized information systems for the collection, validation, monitoring and reporting on AqGR below the level of species (i.e. farmed types and stocks)

Examples of incorporating genetic diversity into national and global reporting and monitoring do exist, but primarily in the terrestrial agriculture sector where nomenclature for breeds and varieties of cultured species is a much more recent practice and thus the nomenclature and characterization of strains is not standardized. We also have a diversity of genetic technologies that can produce different farmed types of cultured species for use in aquaculture (e.g. creation of monosex groups, polyploidization, hybridization and gene transfer). It is now time for the aquaculture sector to develop a standardized information system. This need was recognized by the FAO Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITWG-AqGR), a subsidiary body of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Commission), which recommended the development of such a system. 

The Government of Germany is supporting a project on the development of a Registry of Farmed Types of Aquatic Genetic Resources (Registry). The outputs of this project will be to create a functional prototype Registry populated with farmed types for a number of selected species, a website interface for the Registry for data entry and query, a proposal for further development, institutionalization or commercialization and expansion of the Registry and a series of regional workshops to build capacity and awareness and to validate the Registry. The Commission, at its Seventeenth Regular Session in February 2019, requested that FAO prepare a Global Plan of Action for AqGR (GPA-AqGR) in consultation with the regions and in collaboration with the Committee on Fisheries and its relevant subsidiary bodies. This virtual regional workshop is one of the crucial activities planned and supported by the project.

This prospectus was first prepared for a face to face workshop to be held in the Philippines. This workshop was originally scheduled for March 2020 but was postponed until April 2020 due to the emerging global COVID-19 pandemic. With the worsening situation and global spread of COVID-19 it was impractical to hold the workshop in April and the highly uncertain situation regarding prospects for future travel, the decision was eventually taken to cancel the workshop as a face to face exercise. They have now planned a virtual workshop which will attempt to achieve the same or similar objectives. To achieve these objectives in a virtual environment presents a number of significant challenges and has required a major rethink of the best approach. They have thus decided to hold the workshop over a one-week period with relatively short daily webinars and longer working group discussions, using the Zoom online platform.

Please note that there are no open sessions for external attendance in this virtual workshop.

For more information on the registry of farmed types of AqGR in Aquaculture, visit this FAO Aquaculture Newsletter (Page 40) here.