The Working Group on the Application of Genetics in Fisheries and Mariculture (WGAGFM) met in Olhão, Portugal, 2–5 May 2017. Nineteen participants from 11 coun-tries discussed the four Terms of Reference (ToR) and associated matters. Specifically, there was a focused discussion concerning the proposal by the ICES Science Committee to establish Aquaculture Steering Group (ASG). It was agreed unanimously that the WGAGFM, would wish to be affiliated to the new steering group, while retaining collec-tive interest in capture fisheries. It was further agreed that the WGAGFM would submit an application to coordinate an ICES training course broadly on the Application of Genetics and Genomics to Fisheries and Aquaculture Science.
Four multiannual ToRs were considered and finalised. ToR (a) finalised consideration of infectious disease and parasite spread from seafood into wild populations. A schematic overview was designed to provide a tool for assessing infection risk based on infectious and transmission potential across specified scenarios of host-pathogen infection. The highest infection risk (value 10) corresponds to symptomatic live seafood carrying live pathogens. Moreover, a workflow to aid decision-making when analysing pathogen samples from seafood was constructed, depicting the most appropriate methods to em-ploy, while enhancing detection, robust quantification, and assessment of viability. The mechanisms for integrating WGAGFM advice into fisheries assessment and manage-ment, ToR (b), focused on additional mechanisms for enhancing awareness of WGAGFM activities, expertise, and contributions to ICES and beyond. Such mechanisms were dis-cussed in relation to practical applications of advances in genetics and genomics, most notably considering such issues as meta-barcoding, environmental DNA (eDNA), disease diagnosis, analysis of microbiomes, quantitative genetics of wild populations, targeting specific functional genes, and novel genetic methods to estimate population abundance. In relation to the promotion of WGAGFM activities, while interactions among potential complimentary ICES working groups is not extensive, several information requests be-tween 2015–2017 (e.g. from the Working Group on Integrated Morphological and Molec-ular Taxonomy (WGIMT), Benchmark Workshop on Northern Haddock Stocks (WKHAD) and the Stock Identification Methods Working Group (SIMWG), indicates active complementarity. To promote awareness and impact of WGAGFM, two new methods of dissemination, in addition to existing ICES channels were identified: First, creation of a “Project” in “Researchgate.com” to reach the scientific community in a more targeted way (https://www.researchgate.net/project/ICES-WGAGFM-Working-Group-on-Application-of-Genetics-in-Fisheries-and-Mariculture), and design of a 2-page leaflet for targeting industry, management, national governments, EU, FAO, research councils etc. (attached herein). The challenges of elucidating the genetic basis of adaptive shifts in exploited species was considered further in relation to advances in methods and applica-tion of quantitative genetic analysis (ToR (c)). Particular emphasis was based on the range of phenotypic traits relevant to exploitation, captive propagation and environmen-tal change, and the potential for rapid genetically-based shifts in such traits across both natural and farmed environments. An outline was produced of the scope of quantitative genetic based methods, of pedigree- and pedigree-free genomic mapping approaches, and how they can be applied in planning for promotion of evolutionary resilience, sus-tainable stock exploitation at MSY and in predictions for stock recovery. In particular, it was emphasised that the routine collection of appropriate tissue samples for DNA cou-pled with phenotypic measures on the same individuals, and associated environmental data, would enable improved monitoring of quantitative genetic change and predictions for response for shifts in harvesting practices, breeding scenarios, and ongoing influences of climate change, invasive species, and habitat deterioration. Finally, ToR (d) focused on recently developed approaches for estimating population abundance in the context of deep sea fisheries. The feasibility of the close-kin approach was assessed by consideration of a model system with sufficient background information, and representative of several deep sea species: the white anglerfish (Lophius piscatorius). Basic simulations using white anglerfish fishing data covering ICES divisions VIIIc and IX (Iberian region), indicate that, assuming a coefficient of variation (CV) of 10%, a sample size of about 17 000 indi-viduals, 8500 adults and 8500 juveniles, would be required to obtain reliable estimates of abundance (i.e. breeding population that in this case, based on existing stock assess-ments, is believed to be ∼1.5 million individuals) based on the close-kin method. Using the same estimate of abundance (i.e. 1.5 million individuals), further simulations were subsequently carried out to investigate sampling requirements under distinct CV levels and, more specifically, the minimum number of parent-offspring pairs (POPs) to obtain reliable estimates of abundance (i.e. close to “real” value) based on the close-kin ap-proach. The most important parameter was the number of POPs that need to be identi-fied to obtain reliable estimates of abundance. A simple Excel based guide was developed to assist users in choosing the optimal sampling design, together with re-source requirements. We propose that the genetic marker of choice will be Single Nucleo-tide Polymorphisms (SNPs) or microsatellites, ensuring that markers deployed exhibit sufficient statistical power for parentage analysis.