, Volume 19, Issue 11, pp 3015-3033

Role of traditional knowledge in marine bioprospecting

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The “marine world” is endowed with diverse life forms. The life under the oceans is bestowed with a unique gene pool and characteristics owing to extreme conditions such as high salt concentration and temperature variations. The marine biodiversity is an extremely rich resource for the development of a wide array of applications in food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics. Various forms of traditional knowledge, including traditional medicinal knowledge, have been silently developing over the centuries, with the coastal tribes in nations across the globe. Unfortunately, marine traditional knowledge has been underestimated both commercially and legally. It has still not gained its due importance at the international platform for sustainable use and development. An attempt has been made in the present study to collate information on marine traditional knowledge based medicine. Recent trends of marine bioprospecting by various nations including India have been discussed, followed by the study of legal provisions dealing with marine bioprospecting that aim at conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge. Convention of Biological Diversity, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas and World Intellectual Property Organization are the major international legal instruments that discuss the concepts of Prior Informed Consent, access and benefit sharing with regard to biopiracy and provide guidelines and limits for conducting marine scientific research.