This page features EMBRC's guides on Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS), which were developed as part of the European Blue Biobank (EBB) project. To download, click on the links immediately below, or read further down to learn more about these documents.

The EMBRC guide to ABS compliance

Recommendations to marine biological resources, collections’ and users’ institutions


Providing access to marine genetic resources is one of EMBRC’s primary services. EMBRC is committed to facilitating access to and supply of marine biological and genetic material to users in compliance with international, European and national legal frameworks regarding Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS)

The European Blue Biobank (EBB) project, under the umbrella of EMBRC, supports this aspiration by promoting compliance with ABS regulations. These regulations are derived from the Nagoya Protocol and implemented in Europe through the EU ABS Regulation that came into force in 2014 as well as Member States’ access legislations, where applicable. This regulatory framework, although effective in protecting the rights of the provider country, puts a burden on the user to demonstrate lawful utilisation. In this context, research infrastructures, facilities, biobanks and collections may play a role by facilitating legal compliance and lawful use of the genetic resources they provide.

The EBB project produced a document entitled ‘Deliverable 5.1. Handbook on implementation of EBB Best Practices and Sample Identification System’. This handbook of best practices was endorsed by EMBRC and has become ‘The EMBRC guide to ABS compliance: Recommendations to marine biological resources collections’ and users’ institutions’.


On 14 December 2020, the European Commission adopted Guidance document C(2020)8759 on the scope of application and core obligations of Regulation (EU) No 511/2014 (EU ABS Regulation) which incorporates and complements the previously adopted guidance document of 2016.
The 'EBB Guide to ABS Compliance: Recommendations To Marine Biological Resources, Collections’ And Users’ Institutions' was delivered and endorsed by EMBRC before said Guidance document was published. Although still valid, its recommendations may not encompass up-to-date inclusive information on the EU ABS Regulation.

The guide will shortly be completed by EMBRC to take the new EU ABS Regulation Guidance document into consideration. It will include a new section on obligations for services provided on marine genetic resources (obligations of service requester and of service provider).

Seek, keep & transfer

A step-by-step guide to ABS compliance when utilizing marine genetic resources

EBB project's main goal is to facilitate sustainable access to marine biodiversity, its associated data, and extractable products for local and international academia and industry users, and to incentivise biodiversity conservation in coastal ecosystems by promoting compliance with ABS regulations derived from the Nagoya Protocol. There are concerns that the added bureaucracy in relation to ABS regulations may be detrimental to research, development and innovation (R&D+I) activities. In order to promote R&D+I on marine bioresources, EBB has produced the step-by-step guide 'Seek, keep & transfer: A step-by-step guide to ABS compliance when utilizing marine genetic resources'. This guide is a practical to-do-list for individual scientists from academia or the private sector conducting research on 'marine genetic resources'. This document recommends users to follow a 6-step process by answering some questions in an iterative way. The guide presents actions and provides tips for each of the 6 steps.

The guide was developed as Deliverable 3.4 'Best Practice Guidelines (BPGs) on Accessing MBRs for commercial research in compliance with ABS Regulations'. It is delivered by the EBB project with support of the EMBRC ABS Working Group.