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What is it about? Fish and other Aquatic Organisms

Aquatic Genetic Resources (AqGR) comprise all aquatic genetic resources that are of current or potential value for productivity and sustainability, particularly in fishery and aquaculture.

Aquatic Genetic Resources - What is this?

Thousands of animal and plant species and their genetic variability form the web of life and provide the basis for feeding an ever-growing world population. Biodiversity is therefore one of the world's most important resources.

In the fisheries and aquaculture sector, the Aquatic Genetic Resources (AqGR) form the basis of production. AqGR enable organisms to reproduce and grow, adapt to natural and anthropogenic impacts such as climate change, resist diseases and parasites, and continue to evolve. The diversity of AqGR determines the adaptability and resilience of species to changing environments and contributes to the wide variety of shapes, colours and other characteristics of aquatic species. There are more than 31,000 species of fish, 85,000 species of molluscs, 47,000 species of crustaceans and 13,000 species of seaweed in a wide variety of marine, freshwater and brackish water habitats worldwide.

Finfish in particular, but also crustaceans, shellfish and other seafood, are among the most important sources of protein in the human diet worldwide. At the same time, they are of considerable socio-economic importance as the basis for the fishing industry. In particular, many coastal populations depend on local fisheries and related industries for their livelihoods.

The diversity of AqGR ensures that the needs of future generations for fish and seafood can be met, even under changing environmental conditions. Genetic diversity is therefore the basis for a sustainable, efficient, reliable and multifunctional fisheries sector. It is also the basis for genetic improvement of aquaculture organisms, e.g. through selective breeding. However, we know little about the genetic diversity of aquatic living resources in the wild or under domestication, especially below the species level.

The conservation of natural aquatic ecosystems, which are the basis of aquatic biodiversity, is a prerequisite for the continued use and development of AqGR.

While catch fisheries is currently reaching the limits of its biological productivity, aquaculture is playing an increasingly important role in meeting the needs for fish and fish products of an ever-growing world population. According to the FAO more aquatic species are being farmed today than ever before: in 1950, countries reported farming 72 species from 34 families; by 2013 production was reported and estimated for nearly 575 species items associated with over 115 families. Only a small proportion of these species can really be considered domesticated. In other words, many species farmed in aquaculture can hardly be distinguished from their wild relatives. The breeding improvement of new aquaculture species has great potential for a sustainable increase in aquaculture production.


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