Launch of the EBB Access and Benefit Sharing Training Webinars

Providing access to marine genetic resources is one of EMBRC’s primary services. The EMBRC is committed to facilitating access to and supply of marine biological and genetic material to users in compliance with international, European and national legal frameworks regarding Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS). The European Blue Biobank (EBB) project, under the umbrella of EMBRC, supports this aspiration by promoting compliance with ABS regulations derived from the Nagoya Protocol and implemented in Europe through the EU ABS Regulation that came into force in 2014 as well as Member State’s access legislations, where applicable. This regulatory framework, although effective in protecting the rights of the provider country, puts burden on the user to demonstrate lawful utilization and there are concerns that the added bureaucracy in relation to ABS regulations may be detrimental to Research, Development and innovation activities. In order to help navigating the EU ABS Regulations to both users and research infrastructures, facilities, biobanks and collections, the EBB project has launched a series of webinars. They aim to provide an introduction to EU Access and Benefit Sharing regulations for collections and users, including information about its scope, recommendations for institutions with users and collections of marine genetic resources and for users on how to manage ABS compliance, and a description of the EU Registers to support ABS compliance. This series of webinars have been authorized by Heidi Tillin from the Marine Biological Association (MBA), Anne Emmanuelle Kervella and Arnaud Laroquette from EMBRC-ERIC, and Belén Martínez, Fiz da Costa and Maria del Mar Costa Portela from the University of Vigo. They are accesible through the MBA YouTube channel.

The report about the registry request of EBB is now available

The document explains the requirements that a collection needs to comply with to be included in the EU register of collections, and the difficulties that the EBB project found in its initial idea to include all the partners collections as a single collection named European Blue Biobank. Because the registration of the collections must be done at national level, the deliverable also describes the steps to be taken by each partner of the EBB project to register their collections individually, should they wish to do so.


Learning outcomes from the case studies supported by EBB project

Utilization of marine genetic resources from jurisdictional waters requires providing proof that sampling and utilization of such resources has been done in accordance with National ABS regulations in place. EEB project has implemented a series of use cases (Report on the use cases) to learn the possible constraints and problems that may arise during the process of obtaining the necessary documentation and present easy to follow solutions. The lessons learned were applied to improve the EBB best practice guidelines on ABS (The EMBRC guide to ABS compliance. Recommendations to marine biological resources collections’ and users’ institutions) produced for institutions providing access to marine genetic resources both ex-situ and in-situ and to produce the Step by Step guide towards ABS compliance for users (Seek, keep & transfer: A step-by-step guide to ABS compliance when utilizing marine genetic resources).

Report on the use cases

EBB project engaged with end-users of marine biological resources to learn about the practical implications of complying with Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) regulations in the countries of origin and the major hurdles they need to face during the process. Sixteen case studies for non-commercial utilisation of genetic resources are presented in this document, selected amongst the more than 30 that EBB followed and supported. These cases illustrate a number of difficulties and grey areas regarding the applicability or not of the Nagoya Protocol within different research contexts and applications. In doing so EBB has proposed and encountered ways to solve such problems. The lessons learnt were applied to improve the EBB best practice guidelines on ABS produced for the provision of ex-situ and in-situ genetic resources within Atlantic area EMBRC collections and biobanks (The EMBRC guide to ABS compliance. Recommendations to marine biological resources collections’ and users’ institutions) and to produce its associated Step by Step guide towards ABS compliance (Seek, keep & transfer: A step-by-step guide to ABS compliance when utilizing marine genetic resources).

European Union ABS User Networking Event

On Monday, June 14, 2021, the Leibniz Institute DSMZ/German Nagoya Protocol HuB will be hosting an online EU ABS Networking Event. This meeting will be organized together with the European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC), the Union for Ethical BioTrade, ABS-int, the Dutch ABS National Focal Point (hosted by Wageningen University and Research) and the Natural History Museum London.

Our colleague and EBB partner Anne Emmanuelle Kervella, from CNRS and Station Biologique de Roscoff, will participate in this event. The event´s main objective will be to showcase the efforts made in the European Union to support users of genetic resources in their respective sectors or regions with access and benefit-sharing (ABS) and compliance requirements. It will be divided into two parts: one to find out what has already been done and the other to find out what still needs to be done.

You can check out the draft agenda here and you can register online here.

Seminar on the utilization of genetic resources within the framework of the Nagoya Protocol and the regulations for its implementation

Next May 28, 2021, it will be organized a seminar on the utilization of genetic resources within the framework of the Nagoya Protocol and the regulations for its implementation. This event is co-organized by the Spanish Bank of Algae of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, an entity managed by the Fundación Canaria Parque Científico Tecnológico, together with the Society for the Economic Promotion of Gran Canaria (SPEGC), the TFC Herbarium (SEGAI) of the University of La Laguna Tenerife (ULL), the Museum of Natural Sciences of Tenerife (MUNA), the Canarian Institute of Agricultural Research (ICIA), the Canarian Botanical Garden ‘Viera y Clavijo’-CSIC Associated Unit, Cabildo de Gran Canaria and the Herbarium of Marine Sciences (BCM-ULPGC).

This initiative´s objective is linked to the promotion of cooperative relationships between companies and entities that are part of the blue biotechnology platform. Specifically, this seminar aims to provide a better understanding of the Nagoya Protocol and the European and Spanish Access Benefits Sharing regulations, informing on when it is applied and resolving the doubts that academia and industrial sectors may have about its application.

The day will be divided into a first block dedicated to the Nagoya Protocol and the legislation on access and utilization of genetic resources in research and industry, where you can learn more about its application and its application in the Canary Islands. The second block will focus on deepening the knowledge of the Biological Collections of the Canary Islands, as agents of ex-situ conservation of biodiversity and suppliers of genetic resources to the industry. You can check here the agenda and other information of the event.

The event will be free of charge and broadcasted via zoom. Registration is required and can be done here.

Workshop on reproductive biotechnology and cryobanking in aquatic species

On April 2021, from 7th to 9th, the UAlg team organized a workshop entitled “Workshop on reproductive biotechnology and cryobanking in aquatic species”. It was hold in Faro, Portugal, where several ponents from diverse institutions gave very interesting lectures about reproductive and cryopreservation techniques via zoom platform. Dr. Elsa Cabrita and her team were in charge of moderating the event and also conducted the practical sessions.

Among the invited speakers there were several researchers involved in EBB. Dr. Ibon Cancio, from PiE-UPV/EHU, gave a talk entitled “Biobanking and marine culture collections: access and benefit sharing obligations in the utilisation of genetic resources”. In it he explained the main aspects of ABS regulations and how these can affect access to marine biological resources. And, Dr. Estefanía Paredes, from the CIM-UVigo, gave a talk entitled “Cryopreservation in molluscs & echinoderms”, in which she explained the main aspects of the conservation of these organisms. In addition, Dr. Paredes presented the “Video-Session V: Laser techniques for thawing embryos”, where the latest techniques for the recovery of frozen samples were shown in a visual way.

Apart from this, the day 9th was the practical training day of the workshop where a total of 20 people attended these training classes, which consisted on a visit to zebrafish facilities, sperm collection from seabream and Portuguese oyster, and cryopreservation of these samples using several methods. Besides, testicular dissection and spermatogonia collection were performed including cryopreservation of these cells for conducting transplantations in the future.

Overall, this workshop helped to disseminate some of main aspects of the project and contributed to the capitalization of the project.

EBB creates a centralized integrated biobank database and improves operational standards

The (bio)diversity of culture collections and biobanks regarding different types of organisms is of great value, specially in the pursuit of new biological products for the development of the blue bioeconomy, which makes these biobanks (most of them part of EMBRC), a very sought-after asset in applied research.

However, the organizational complexity of these culture collections and biobanks makes very difficult to navigate through them, as one may have to search through different libraries or databases, since each biobank has its own database. This is not only troublesome for anyone who wishes to find the right organism for its research, but it also brings problems from the point of view of traceability of Marine Biological Resources (MBR), a key aspect of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) regulations.

EBB´s consortium involves marine culture collections and biobanks belonging to ten European institutions and, led by Dr. Ian Probert, manager of Roscoff Culture Collection at Station Biologique de Roscoff (Sorbonne Université), EBB has developed two management tools: TRACK and TRACE.

TRACK has born out of the need of homogenizing the database organization of all the culture collections and the biobanks that are part of EBB. It is an e-tool designed to manage and provide access to data pertaining to sampling and maintenance of marine biological resources (collected in the wild, in sample collections or cultured) from biobanks.

TRACE is an online database that will serve as a common access system to marine biological resources collections. This searchable catalogue groups the full range of marine biological resources that can be provided by the marine stations of EBB, constituting the European Blue Biobank.

Both tools will be part of the legacy that our project will leave to the EMBRC community and to the marine research and science.


EBB project presented in their final event its main outcomes for the integrated management of European marine biobanks

After more than three years of work, the project celebrated, this last Tuesday, March 23, its closing event: the “Symposium on Biobanking and Marine Diversity”. The event gathered around 100 people from all over the world interested in EBB results and main outcomes.

The Director of the Marine Research Center (CIM) of the University of Vigo, Daniel Rey, opened the symposium and showcased the importance of the European Blue Biobank project for the European marine stations and for the European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC) community. The CIM’s Director also complimented EBB partners for all the effort made during the project implementation, highlighting that this effort was recognized by the Atlantic Area Awards during the 5ª Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference, held in 2018.

Then, Jesús Souza Troncoso, EBB project’s leader at University of Vigo, gave special thanks to all the people involved in the project from its drafting to the present time.

The presentations sessions started with Fiz da Costa, project manager of EBB project, who focused on the legacy that the project leaves to the EMBRC community and to the entire marine science community. He showed, in a schematic way, the main results obtained in this project that will remain operational over time and will serve to improve the quality of marine stations, biobanks, culture collections and marine science researchers. His speech also served as an introduction of the main topics that were presented during the symposium.

The EMBRC Executive Director, Nicolas Pade, followed presenting EMBRC-ERIC and showing the main goals of this research infrastructure with special focus on the services provided. He also explained the important role of EMBRC (and its biological resources centers) in helping research to carry out their “due diligence” regarding Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) legislation.

This last point served as a springboard for one of the project’s main achievements: the creation of a best practices manual to comply with the ABS by EBB project, that has been also endorsed by EMBRC. This manual, entitled “The EMBRC guide to ABS compliance. Recommendations to marine biological resources collections’ and users’ institutions”, was presented by Anne Emmanuelle Kervella and Heidi Tillin from CNRS-Station Biologique de Roscoff and Marine Biological Association, respectively. Anne-Emmanuelle made a presentation introducing the main aspects of ABS regulations and the Nagoya Protocol. Then, Heidi Tillin, presented the structure of the EMBRC guide and focused on one of the technical annexes.

Heidi Tillin also presented the practical guide for users “Seek, keep & transfer: A step-by-step guide to ABS compliance when utilizing marine genetic resources”. This useful document provides end-users with the necessary information and steps for ABS compliance in their access to genetic resources.

After, Amber Scholz, from the DMSZ German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures, explained to the audience the advantages and drawbacks for DMSZ collection of registering in the European register of collections.

The last talk was given by Ian Probert, manager of the Roscoff Culture Collecion, who presented the management tools TRACK and TRACE. TRACK is a web-based database tool to manage data pertaining to marine biological resources provided from biobanks. TRACE, on the other hand, is a common online catalogue of marine biological resources available from EBB partners, which includes resources from culture collections, cultured macroorganisms, sample collections and wild-collected resources.

The event finished with Fiz  thanking all EBB members for their contribution during the years to the success of the project, the participants to the event for attending and the organization.

The recording of the event is now available on the UvigoTV channel.

Workshop on Reproductive Biotechnology and Cryobanking in Aquatic Species

The 4th edition of the Workshop on Reproductive Biotechnology and Cryobanking in Aquatic Species, within the framework of the project EBB (European Blue Biobank) is going to be held. The Workshop is aimed towards young and professional researchers, as well as representatives from industry. The course will be focused on techniques for germline cryobanking integrating aspects of different expertise. The covered topics are in the attached poster.

The Workshop will highlight the most recent developments in each topic, promoting a strong interaction between the attendees and the experienced researchers and private companies working in different techniques for germline cryobanking.

This year, the 4th edition will take place online, via ZOOM platform, between 7-9th April 2021. The last day, consist of practical sessions that will take place at the facilities of the University of Algarve. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, priority will be given to local students and sessions will be limited to 20 participants. The selected participants for the practical sessions will be contacted by the organizing committee by email.

Participation is FREE, upon registration here, available until 2nd April.