Landmark report to protect the world's oceans

A landmark report co-authored by a leading academic specialising in how marine biological resources can be used in the development of life-saving pharmaceuticals has been launched today (Friday, April 24).

Professor Marcel Jaspars was part of the author team for the Blue Paper: The Ocean Genome: Conservation and the Fair, Equitable and Sustainable Use of Marine Genetic Resources.  

The report has been produced for the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, a key group of world leaders working towards the equitable and sustainable use of ocean resources in areas including drug development.

Professor Jaspars, from the University’s Department of Chemistry, is renowned for his work in this area, having played a key role in advising a UN committee working towards a common set of rules on the sustainable use of biological resources from the deep sea.

Professor Jaspars was previously a project leader of PharmaSea, a University of Aberdeen-led initiative that has explored the deep sea to uncover new bacteria that can produce life-saving antibiotics.

He has written a section in the report on pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, highlighting that an intact and healthy ocean genome (the genetic material in all marine biodiversity) provides ecological benefits, and the foundation that has enabled and supported a growing range of applications such as new treatments for cancer, as well as cleaner, greener industrial processes.

Commenting on the launch of the report, Professor Jaspars said: “A sustainable ocean economy prioritises the conservation and sustainable use of the ‘ocean genome’, which is the genetic material present in all marine biodiversity which is crucial to the resilience of marine ecosystems.

“This report recommends steps to protect the genome, which is threatened by a series of pressures including overexploitation and climate change.

“Among the recommendations for world leaders are conservation measures that protect marine genetic diversity, and the promotion of inclusive innovation in marine genomics research.

“It also urges increased financial and political support to improve knowledge of the ocean genome, and embedding conservation of the genome within research and commercialisation processes.

“Overall this is a landmark report that plots a clear route to the fair and sustainable use of ocean resources, and our hope is that our recommendations will act as a call to action to world leaders that will benefit current and future generations.”

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