I work on a wild species that is not culturally important in the US. Do I need to pay attention to the Nagoya Protocol?

Posted by anon on 05/30/2019.

I’m curious about if we need to seek permissions for collections from species such as invasive species, and from places such as public land. I understand even though my research is national, there are still similar permissions that I may be required to document if I am publishing my work.

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  1. editor

    Showing you obtained permission is the best way to ensure your research is publishable as policies evolve. Permission for wild species access is usually in the form of federal, state, or county permits, or letters giving permission if material is harvested on private land. Just like the Nagoya Protocol encourages, best practices are to explain your project goals and intentions to the provider, and document evidence that you did. The simplest way to have a record of this is to write up a short information card or sheet with your contact information so people can learn more about your project or ask follow-up questions. Institutional IRB offices can be consulted to evaluate whether the project is the kind that could benefit from IRB evaluation and permission. IRB covers human subject involvement, which is broad. IRB could cover activities that are not likely to pose potential harm or risk to a participant, and that may deal with wild species: e.g. recording or photographing student experiences on a class fieldtrip, or anonymous interviews with surfers about wildlife they’ve seen. IRB also helps you take appropriate steps to conduct ethically sound research when there is risk or potential harm to participants if data or findings were exposed and misused: this may be especially relevant to wild species research in cases where your work identifies environmental injustice or illegal wildlife management practices. Thinking about the potential people who could be affected by your work, even if you’re working on a species that doesn’t seem to be one people care about, can benefit your own understanding of the scope, importance, and downstream applications of your research.

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