Business2Sea 2020

The 10th edition of Business2Sea organized by CETMAR Foundation and Fórum Oceano was held from the 16th to 20th of November 2020 in virtual format. The European Blue Biobank (EBB) project contributed to this event with an awareness workshop entitled “Do not be a biopirate: the European Blue biobank can help you use marine genetic resources legally”. Belén Martín Míguez, EBB coordinator, animated the workshop and Dr. Ibon Cancio from UPV/EHU (Spain) gave a first clarifying talk about how the importance of the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) framework and Nagoya protocol for the conservation of global biodiversity, and the procedures that a user of marine genetic resources have to undertake for accessing them legally. Since regulations can differ between countries, Dr. Cancio showed in his presentation the central role of the Access and Benefit Sharing Clearing House (ABS-CH), a repository that facilitates the contact with the national focal points as well as pointing to the legal texts applicable in each country. Next, Fiz da Costa (CIM/UVigo, Spain), project manager of EBB project explained how the project had assisted more than 30 users to access marine genetic resources legally. Each use case has had its particularities: different provider country, different national regulations, different purpose of the experiments… Dr. da Costa finished his talk explaining the main lessons learnt from these use cases. A round table closed the workshop with users of genetic resources from different countries (Portugal, France and Spain) sharing their experiences in accessing and utilizing marine genetic resources. They highlighted some of the difficulties encountered and acknowledged EBB project contribution in helping them.

According to the polls launched during the workshop, half of the audience belonged to clusters/private sector and the other half to academic sector. The majority of the audience was not familiarized with all the steps needed for ABS compliance.

The presentations and videos of the workshop can be found here.

4th EBB General Assembly

EBB partnership met virtually during three days, on 8th, 27th and 28th October, to take stock of the progress made in the last year and plan the next and final actions before the project finishes on 15th April.

They were intense sessions, where reporting on work packages was followed by short presentations by the partners.

Many new deliverables, finalised or closed to be in their final form were presented: amongst them, 1) an on-line EBB catalogue, a centralised gateway that will provide access to culture collections and biobanks held at EBB institutions; 2) the Handbook on implementation of EBB Best Practices; 3) a Step-by-Step guide on ABS compliance for commercial users, a report on the EBB Use Cases… the list goes on and the next months will be focused on the capitalization of all those outputs, making sure they are uptaken by other initiatives or projects.

During the General Assembly, the legacy of the project was also discussed, in particular, with regard to the European Marine Biological Resource Centre, EMBRC, under which EBB project is running. EMBRC will be the main depository of the main outputs. In particular, the Handbook on implementation of EBB Best Practices has already been endorsed by EMBRC, and in the future it will be submitted to be part of the EU Registry of Best Practices. The EBB online catalogue will eventually become an EMBRC catalogue for collections and biobanks from EMBRC members all over Europe.

In addition to EBB partners directly contributing to the project, the General Assembly counted on a number of guests from reputed institutions such as SANGER Welcome and the Scottish Association of Marine Science. EMBRC was also represented by its executive director Nicolas Pade, and its ABS officer, Arnaud Laroquette.

You can find the agenda of the Assembly here.

Virtual Training on Quality Management Systems for culture collections and biobanks

A virtual Quality Management Systems (QMS) training workshop for culture collections and biobanks from EBB partnership took place last week in the framework of WP4 (“Development of common methodologies for the management of Marine Biobanks”). The training had 6 participants from three EBB partners (CIIMAR, NUIG and UPV/EHU) involved in managing collections in their respective institutions, and 2 trainers from the University of Sorbonne (Priscillia Gourvil, Roscoff marine station) and University of Vigo (Sergio González, ECIMAT marine station), who are the QMS managers at their respective stations.

The training was hosted and organised by the University of Vigo (EBB lead partner) with Belén Martín Míguez (EBB coordinator) acting as facilitator. It ran over three days structured into ‘wake-up talks’ followed by lectures on QMS matters and hands-on activities. Topics covered during the lectures included “Fundamentals of QMS”, “QMS requirements for culture collections and biobanks” and “QMS documentation”. Additional topics of interest for the management of the collections like the Nagoya protocol or Cryopreservation techniques were also presented by Fiz da Costa and Estefanía Paredes respectively. The hands-on activities allowed the participants to consolidate and put in practice the concepts acquired during the lectures with the support of the trainers.

Overall, the training was highly informative for the participants, and fostered the exchange of experiences and ideas in a relaxed atmosphere. The participants will be initiating a QMS implementation process for their respective collections and biobanks in the next months, and they can count on the advice and support of EBB QMS trainers to guide them through the process.

EBB is a project that operates under the umbrella of EMBRC (European Marine Biological Resource Centre) research infrastructure and the results of this training will be a contribution to it.

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.