Summary Session C
Professor Havlyn Halvorson from the University of Massachussetts opened the session with a keynote address covering activities in Marine Biotechnology around the world. Marine biotechnology ranges all the way from traditional marine oyster and salmon aquaculture to the civilization of genomics of the rich and unexplored biodiversity of marine life. Prof. Halvorson discussed the variety of US companies which have explored the potential of new marine natural products like polysaccharides, antifouling agents and biologically active compounds. Key issues covered included: sequencing the genomes of marine organisms (eg. the round spotted puffer fish) and micro organisms such as he pathogen Vibrio cholerae; discovery of new antimicrobial compounds against human pathogens, as well as oyster pathogens; development of marine drugs such as the anticancer drug discodermolide and squalamine. Other key areas include food additives (natural antioxidants) and novel proteins (such as antifreeze proteins which can be used to inhibit ice recrystallization in ice cream). European developments in marine biotechnology were covered, in particular the marine research stations network, European Strategy to implement a new programme in marine biotechnology was discussed.
Key issues of importance included:
In summary Professor Halvorson and the other participants recommended that given the strength of European Marine research it would be timely to initiate a European programme on Marine Biotechnology which would benefit European industry whilst allowing sustainable use of the oceans. Continuity is needed, communication and efforts for public awareness must be part of the process.