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Governance of genetic biocontrol technologies for invasive fish

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Abstract

The modification of living agents for biological control can be collectively regarded as genetic biocontrol (GBC). Applications to invasive fish are an area of significant work in GBC, employing a diversity of techniques. Some of these techniques are governed by particular legislation, policy or treaty, (e.g., transgenesis), while others deliver agents with similar properties with minimal regulation. Together, this heterogeneity of governance and biology creates a number of challenges for effective use of GBC. In some cases, there are gaps and inconsistencies that pose real threats to biodiversity, and the long term sustainability of oversight arrangements as they currently stand is questionable. Researchers and would-be users of GBC for invasive fish must proactively engage with a variety of stakeholders to improve governance (in fish and other taxa), which we contend may include reconfiguration of relevant national governance systems, meaningful stakeholder dialogue and the creation of a new international treaty dedicated to biological control.

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Notes

  1. https://www.cbd.int/.

  2. A full listing of nations and their status regards to the CBD and its Protocols can be found at http://www.cbd.int/convention/parties/list/#tab=0.

  3. http://www.cbd.int/world/ratification.shtml.

  4. http://bch.cbd.int/protocol/text/.

  5. The Protocol attempts to create a minimum standard for its protection goals, specifically allowing parties to exceed its measures.

  6. http://bch.cbd.int/protocol/parties/#tab=0.

  7. http://bch.cbd.int/database/laws/.

  8. http://bch.cbd.int/protocol/supplementary/.

  9. http://bch.cbd.int/protocol/parties/#tab=1.

  10. The agencies must arrive at consensus for the importation of biocontrol agents, something that rarely happens. New agents are thus rarely approved.

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Acknowledgments

Many of the ideas in this paper stem from the International Symposium on Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Fish held in Minneapolis, MN, June 21–24, 2010. At this meeting, a diverse group of natural and social scientists and stakeholders convened to discuss the issues associated with GBC risk analysis and oversight. A consensus emerged on the need for more formal assessments of possible oversight regimes (see papers in this volume for other outputs). We thank the organizers and the National Sea Grant Office for making the symposium possible, and workshop participants for their input in discussion. Particular thanks goes to Leah Sharpe for co-ordination and comments, and to Cynthia Hagley for records of workshop discussion. Kuzma would also like to thank the Institute on the Environment of the University of Minnesota for partially supporting this work through her Resident Fellow grant.

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Gilna, B., Kuzma, J. & Otts, S.S. Governance of genetic biocontrol technologies for invasive fish. Biol Invasions 16, 1299–1312 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-012-0367-x

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