Workshop: “Utilización de recursos genéticos y Protocolo de Nagoya: marco legal y casos prácticos de aplicación en el ámbito marino”

The Marine Research Centre (CIM) of the University of Vigo, coordinator of the “European Blue Biobank” (EBB) project, together with the CETMAR Foundation, and especially with the Interreg Atlantic Area project entitled COCKLES organized a technical workshop to raise awareness of the existing obligations to access and use genetic resources derived from the Nagoya Protocol (2010) and associated regulations. In Spain, the Protocol is translated into the ByLaw 124/2017, which regulates the access and use of genetic resources from wild taxa. Finally, in Galicia, the Law 5/2019 on natural heritage and biodiversity reflects basic aspects for the application of the rule in this territory and the obligation of communication of the territorial administration to the national focal point.

The workshop was opened by Paloma Rueda (Director of CETMAR Foundation) and Belén Martín Míguez (coordinator of EBB). Alejandro Lago, project manager of the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project, presented the international context about the Nagoya protocol. Noelia Vallejo Pedregal, Spanish National Focal Point for the Nagoya Protocol, from the Ministry of Ecological Transition, explained the legal framework in Spain. Fiz da Costa, project manager of EBB project, presented the Best Practice Guidelines developed by EBB partners and use cases implemented. The event was closed with a round table of debate with scientist, policy makers and industry, with the contribution of Angel F. Gonzalez (CSIC), representing the scientists; Fiz da Costa, Elisa Gago (Xunta de Galicia), representing the competent authority in Galicia; Noelia Vallejo, from the National Focal Point in Spain; Carlos Padilla, Biomar mt, a private company with experience in ABS regulations; and Rosa Fernández (CETMAR), acting as moderator.

The workshop was filmed by UVigoTV. Presentations were in Spanish and and videos are available in the following links:

  1. Intervención de Paloma Rueda. Directora de CETMAR, Bienvenida y presentación de la jornada Video 1 Bienvenida
  2. Intervención de Belén Martín. Responsable de la participación de la ECIMAT-UVigo en la Red Europea de Estaciones de Biología Marina (EMBRC-ERIC), Bienvenida y presentación de la jornada Video 2 Bienvenida Belén Martín
  3. El protocolo de Nagoya en el contexto de la protección de la biodiversidad global. Alejandro Lago, Programa de Desarrollo de Naciones Unidas, Instrumento Financiero Global, Naciones Unidas Video 3 Presentación Alejandro Lago
  4. Turno de preguntas Alejandro Lago. El protocolo de Nagoya en el contexto de la protección de la biodiversidad global. Video 4 Turno de preguntas Alejandro Lago
  5. Marco legislativo español y procesos de consulta. Noelia Vallejo, Punto Focal Nacional para el Protocolo de Nagoya. Jefa de Área de Estrategias y Planes de Conservación. Subdir. Gral. de Biodiversidad y Medio Natural, MITECO  Video 5 Presentación de Noelia Vallejo
  6. Proyecto EBB: Casos de estudio y Guía de buenas prácticas. Fiz da Costa, Gestor del Proyecto EBB, Centro de Investigación Mariña, Universidade de Vigo Video 6 Presentación Fiz da Costa
  7. Introducción a la mesa redonda: debate entre representantes de las administraciones, la industria y los centros de investigación. Moderadora Rosa Fernández Otero, Coordinadora del área de promoción y transferencia de tecnología, CETMAR Video 7 Presentación mesa redonda
  8. Mesa Redonda. Representante del ámbito científico. Ángel F. González González, Head of the Ecology and Marine Resources Department en Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas, CSIC Video 8 Mesa redonda Ángel F. González González
  9. Mesa Redonda. Representante de la administración. Elsa Gago, Jefa del servicio de biodiversidad de la Dirección Xeral de Patrimonio Cultural de la Consellería de Cultura e Turismo, Xunta de Galicia Video 9 Mesa redonda Elsa Gago
  10. Mesa Redonda. Representante del ámbito empresarial. Carlos Padilla Martinez, Head of microalgae laboratory, BIOMAR MICROBIAL TECHNOLOGIES Video 10 Mesa redonda Carlos Padilla Martinez
  11. Turno de preguntas y debate entre representantes de las administraciones, la industria y los centros de investigación. Video 11 Debate
  12. Conclusiones y cierre. Rosa Fernández Otero, Coordinadora del área de promoción y transferencia de tecnología, CETMAR Video 12 Conclusiones y cierre

3rd General Assembly of EBB-project

The Plentzia Marine Station in the University of the Basque Country (PiE-UPV/EHU) hosted the 3rd general assembly of the EBB project with a first day meeting on the Plentzia Marine Station in Plentzia and a second day in the “Bizkaia Aretoa” of the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao. The advances within each work package were discussed and way ahead during the last year of the project decided.

Within the assembly we hosted the Mini-workshop on EBB Quality Management Systems and a discussion on ABS Best practice guidelines in which Anne Nivart of CETAF and the French national Natural History Musseum and Juan Luis Gomez Pinchetti of the Spanish Algae Bank participated as invited experts.

The meeting was reflected in a short publication in the magazine Europa Azul:

Agentes se reúnen en el País Vasco para coordinar el Biobanco Marino Europeo

Workshop: “Fostering development of micro-algal-based industries: legal and practical aspects”

Belén Martín Míguez, coordinator of EBB project, together with Maria José Chapela, coordinator of Enhance Microalgae project (both Interreg Atlantic Area), organised the workshop “Fostering development of micro-algalbased industries: legal and practical aspects” which was part of the event Business2Sea that gathers annually stakeholders from the marine realm. The workshop firsrconsidered legal frameworks that can hinder exploitation of micro-algae. In particular, Fiz da Costa, from EBB project offered a talk on Nagoya protocol implementation. In the second part, two representatives from Neoalgae and A4f companies presented their activities and perspectives on those legal frameworks and how they impact their businesses. The audience (which included some other members of EBB project such as Vitor Vasconcelos and Guilherme Scotta from CIIMAR) participated in the debate.

Café con Sal conference cycle

On the 19th February 2019, Antonio Villanueva, Coordinator of the EBB project, presented at the “Café con Sal” conference cycle, the implications for marine biological researchers of novel regulations regulating access to genetic resources, with the lecture “ABS: are you talking about my car brakes?“. With this conference, Antonio Villanueva, coordinator of EBB project, aimed to raise awareness among research staff about this legal requirement, giving to the assistants some basic information and some tips to reduce as far as possible the impact of these new regulations on their activity.

The conference took place at the conference room of the ECIMAT at 11:00h (CET) and was live streamed on and will be permanently available on CIM ( and UVigoTV websites:

Presentation of Antonio Villanueva by Alba Hernández, CIM-UVigo

Conference by Antonio Villanueva, CIM-UVigo

Questions time by Antonio Villanueva, CIM-UVigo

The presentation can be downloaded following the link

Sea Tech Week

One-day session “Bioresources: unlocking and accessing the potential of the marine environment”. Organized by PMBA and EMBRC-France. Summary: Marine bioresources are at the heart of economic activities in the maritime regions, providing the food we eat, the air we breathe, and to an increasing extent new products and a new frontier to explore in terms of biotechnological advances. Brittany and the surrounding regions have a wealth of expertise and projects valorising biological resources from the sea and continue to drive and innovate the biotech sector. This session gave a flavour of what Brittany has to offer of activities related to marine bioresources in public-private partnerships, industrial R&D, and fundamental research, and how to access the marine ecosystems, its biological resources and related expertise through the international network of research infrastructures present in Brittany. UVigo participated in the session, with Cristina Secades as speaker presenting the EBB project. Title: EMBRC Blue Biobank project: how to facilitate access to marine biological resources. Abstract: Accessing bioresources has become highly regulated and now requires very specific permits and steps to obtain them and to ensure that any benefits derived from them are shared with the country of origin. The EEB project is working to ensure that EMBRC can supply bioresources in line with current legislation, and develop best practices and guidelines for the public and private sectors.

Workshop – Best practice guidelines for ABS

Colin Brownlee explaining the objectives of the workshop

Implementing best practice guidelines for Access and Benefit Sharing

17 May 2018, Plouzané, France by Heidi Tillin

The aims of this second one day workshop, that followed the previous more commercially focussed workshop, were to ensure all EBB project partners were familiar with Best Practice Guidelines and could discuss the process of implementing procedures within their institutions and the process for retrospective ABS compliance for existing genetic resources in collections. The workshop also identified differences in national legislation and discussed the ramifications of including collections in an EU registry. The event was attended by representatives from EBB project partner institutions, as well as Competent National Authorities on ABS from France and Spain and other experts.

The workshop opened with introductory presentations on BPGs and EU registry, by Anne-Emmanuelle (EMBRC-France) and Robert Yarlett (MBA), respectively. After the talks, the workshop followed a series of open discussions to decide on the next steps towards implementing BPGs and the practicalities and benefits of including the collections in an EU registry. There were also short discussions on retrospective ABS compliance and traceability of genetic resources.

Implications of collection registration with the EU registry that were discussed in the first workshop were further debated with input from the Competent National Authorities representatives. From a collection owner’s point of view, registration means that the collection assumes liability for ABS compliance. For an unregistered collection the user assumes liability for ABS compliance. A collection will therefore have less legal liability when making an unregistered collection available to a user and institutions may not wish to register all or parts of collections. Therefore a change in emphasis of WP5 from registration to aiding institutions/ organisations was discussed.

It was agreed by project partners’ that the key group focus should now be on collating BPGs into a handbook for EBB partners and implementing of those BPGs set out in the handbook  in order to meet the legal obligations as stated under the Nagoya protocol (2014). The MIRRI and CETAF guidelines are a good basis for developing Best Practice Guidelines as a deliverable and everyone should be aware of them. Most attendees agreed that a step by step, guide to implementing BPGs would be helpful and partners made various suggestions about the form and content of the handbook.

Feedback was collected at the end of the workshop to gather opinions from attendees. In brief, there was a general consensus that the workshop had aided partner’s understanding of implementing BPGs within their institutions and most believe these to be feasible to implement and a priority.

The workshop has achieved the objectives of increasing understanding around ABS compliance and liability for collections supplying genetic material. On the basis of workshop discussions, collection registration is no longer seen as a desirable aim for most collections (due to legal liability remaining with the collection). This may change based on future discussions and as implementation of legislation proceeds and the processes are further developed.

Following the workshop a position paper has been produced which summarises the opinions, benefits and challenges which institutions face under the new ABS legislation. This is available on Basecamp along with a brief report on the feedback received at the workshop from delegates. The MBA are very grateful for the input of all delegates and the hard work Justine Pittera (PMBA) put into organising the workshop. Ibon Cancio (UPV/EHU) and other project team members and the Competent National Authorities are also thanked for their efforts in ensuring the success of this workshop.

This one day workshop, open to academic and commercial users of marine genetic resources, lead then to a second day workshop (17th of may) for EBB partners, to discuss on practicalities regarding registration and best practice guidelines.

Workshop Brest – MGRs for commercial R&D | ABS legal framework

Audience during the discussion session with the CNAs

Practical steps for facilitating the use of marine biological resources for commercial R&D in the context of the new Access and Benefit Sharing legal framework (Nagoya protocol)

16 May 2018, Plouzané, France by Ibon Cancio

The workshop was organized in the context of the Interreg Atlantic Area EBB project and the activities of the European research infrastructure EMBRC-ERIC as a marine bioresource provider in Plouzané, Brest, Brittany. Brittany was selected for the logistic help and support provided by Le Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique and the research and technology transfer landscape around marine biotechnology in the Region, with a wide spectrum of companies with interest, and concerns, on the ABS regulation framework. The aim of the workshop was to connect companies, marine culture collections/biobanks and ABS national contact points, and it was primed by a previously prepared/circulated on-line questionnaire on awareness of companies on ABS legislation. The knowledge of companies on the ABS framework was to be analyzed, together with the future needs on access to marine genetic resources (MGRs), bringing them to a higher level of awareness. The final outcome of the workshop should be a series of flagship use-cases proposed by the companies to be beta-tested for them by the EBB in the light of the ABS framework.

A total of 50 participants registered for the workshop who received the welcome of Philippe Monbet (Deputy Director of Le Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique) and of Justine Pittera and Ibon Cancio, as organisers of the workshop. After presenting the aims of the workshop, Florence Guillot (Access and communication officer of EMBRC-ERIC) presented the vision and mission of EMBRC-ERIC, and Antonio Villanueva (EBB project coordinator) presented the goals of the EBB project and EMBRC-ERIC culture collections and biobanks.

These introductory presentations lead to a first informative session by the ABS focal points, in relation to the 3 pillars of the ABS regulations: Access, Benefit Sharing and Compliance. The common umbrella of the ABS regulatory framework, with its implication on access to MGR was presented through teleconference by Alicja Kozlowska (Desk Officer for ABS and member of DG-ENV). The ABS access pillar was presented from the point of view of two countries with ABS legislation in place (France and Spain) and one without national legislation adopted (Portugal), through their respective national contact points (Florence Hervatin-Queney, Mª Carmen Fernández and Marco Rebelo).

The following speakers focused their presentation in practical issues from the point of view of culture collections (Philippe Desmeth from World Federation of Culture Collections), research and technology transfer projects (Dr Oonagh Mcmeel from Seascape Belgium and INMARE), companies (Bruno David from Pierre Fabre) and science parks (Pierre Colas from Blue Valley in Roscoff) working with MGRs. They addressed the needs of the different collectives regarding ABS regulations, pointing to issues as due diligence, benefit sharing through capacity building and the need for legal clearance for commercial users of MGRs. Finally, Ibon Cancio (EMBRC-Spain) presented the results of an EBB questionnaire to the industry working with MGRs in Portugal, Spain, France and UK to test their awareness and knowledge on ABS regulations. The questionnaire showed the high degree of unawareness and lack of knowledge in the private sector.

Following discussions with audience also revealed this lack of knowledge. At the level of the culture collections the suitability of seeking registration in the EU registry of collections was discussed, and not seen as very positive and feasible. No common pan-European collection can be registered as registration is asked, evaluated and granted at the national level. The approval of best practice guidelines in any case is evaluated at the EU commission level.
Discussion with companies did not result in use cases being presented (for lack of knowledge on the ABS regulation or due to the fact that IPR issues are problematic in this kind of open discussion), that EBB collections could test to learn by doing. This exercise should allow to introduce solutions concerning specifically the commercial use of MGRs in the best practice guidelines. It was decided that the collections will have to contact their usual commercial users, to know first-hand on their future needs regarding access to MGRs.

This one day workshop, open to academic and commercial users of marine genetic resources, lead then to a second day workshop (17th of may) for EBB partners, to discuss on practicalities regarding registration and best practice guidelines.

Kick-off meeting: launching of the EBB project

Kick-off meeting: launching of the EBB project

The kick-off meeting (KOM) of the EBB project was held at Vigo’s Port Authority premises, in Vigo (Spain), on 21st and 22nd of November 2017. The meeting participants included representatives from the University of Vigo (Spain), the University of the Basque Country (Spain), the Interdisciplinary Center for Marine and Environmental Research (Portugal), the University of Algarve (Portugal), the Sorbonne University (formerly Pierre and Marie Curie University; France), the Marine Research Institute (Norway), Fórum Oceano (Portugal), Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique (France), Anfaco-Cecopesca (Spain), the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (United Kingdom), the Marine Biological Association (United Kingdom), and from the National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland).

The KOM was jointly opened by Jesús Souza Troncoso, director of the Marine Research Centre of the University of Vigo, and Carlos Botana, responsible of Sustainability at the Port of Vigo. "This is the first initiative to promote a long-term transnational coordination of marine biobanks," said Jesús Troncoso, explaining that, as a marine biologist, he usually has to collect samples around the world. "This is a difficult issue, as each country has its own regulations and protocols. Therefore, this initiative to implement a common strategy towards accessing marine biological resources is paramount" said Troncoso. On the other hand, Carlos Botana underlined the link between the objectives enclosed in the EBB project with those of Blue Growth - a strategic plan of the Port of Vigo: "For the Port of Vigo, we have identified 14 sectors linked to the blue economy, from biotechnology, fishing and tourism, to blue energy and sea highways" said Botana.

Jesús Troncoso (background, right of center) and Carlos Botana (background, left of center) opening the EBB kick-off meeting.  Source: Duvi

EBB partners at the project’s Kick-Off Meeting in Vigo


After the institutional opening, the first day started with a general presentation of the EBB project and its links to EMBRC-ERIC carried out by the project coordinator Antonio Villanueva (University of Vigo, Spain). Then, partners gave a short presentation introducing their respective institution and stream of work. The project manager Cristina Secades (UVigo) chaired the two-day meeting, during which the work plan for the coming months was discussed and established, and the main roles and responsibilities of the partners was agreed upon.

Press staff were at the venue to cover the event, and a press release was published by the University of Vigo Journal (Duvi), as well as in various other websites, including those of ECIMAT and BBMRI-ERIC.