Interim Report of the Working Group on the Application of Genetics in Fisheries and Aquaculture (WGAGFA). 15–17 May 2018 Brest, France

Type Report
Date 2018-05-15
Language English
Ref. ICES CM 2018/ASG:03
Other localization
Author(s) ICES
Contributor(s) Boudry PierreORCID

The Working Group on the Application of Genetics in Fisheries and Aquaculture (WGAGFA) convened at the Pôle Numérique Brest Iroise (PNBI, Université Bretagne Loire) in Plouzané, Brest, France, 15–17 May 2018. The meeting was hosted by Pierre Boudry (LEMAR, Ifremer) and Grégory Charrier (LEMAR UBO) and was attended by 24 participants from 11 countries.

The ToRs are highly relevant to current challenges inherent to the management and con-servation of marine living resources (ToR A, C, D) and the benefit to the aquaculture industry (ToR B). All ToRs do not only consider state-of-the-art science but also strive to maximise impact through peer-reviewed publications and active engagement with stakeholders.

The WGAGFA members reflected on state-of-the-art of genetic and genomic approaches for quantifying indirect genetics of salmon aquaculture on wild salmon populations (ToR A). The magnitude of escape events of farmed Atlantic salmon raise concern about indi-rect genetic interactions between wild Atlantic salmon and escaped domestic individuals, that could lead to significant loss of fitness of wild salmon populations. An understand-ing of indirect genetic effects will inform policy related to the sustainable aquaculture. Different forms of indirect genetic effects are discussed. A literature review suggests that ecological interactions resulting from aquaculture can result in significant genetic change in wild salmon populations and other species and that novel genetic and genomic ap-proaches can help to quantify impacts. Future work will scrutinize the power of novel approaches to detect changes in genetic diversity and character over time.

Genomic selection (GS), a genetic marker-assisted selection method, applied for many terrestrial farmed species, is discussed for aquaculture species in ToR B. GS can efficient-ly support breeding strategies in aquaculture. The approach is described and advantages as well as limitations are delineated. In summary GS will enhance the rate of genetic gain and GS information may also facilitate the discovery of genomic regions that contribute to the genetic variation of complex traits. Importantly, challenges of the approach for different species and breeding programmes have considered. The main practical concern GS in aquaculture it is whether it is a cost-effective selection strategy. Advances in ge-nomic methodologies accompanied by reduced costs for analyses are enabling the in-creased use of GS in aquaculture. This will be monitored and discussed in future work, along with recommendations its introduction in aquaculture activities.

The reduction of discards is a high priority on fishery policy agendas worldwide, but legislation tends to be difficult to implement. The WGAGFA discussed how genetic ap-proaches could help to facilitate discard avoidance strategies with a focus on the EU landing obligation but by also tapping into experiences and practices from ICES Member States in general (ToR C). It is important to enable the industry to comply with estab-lished rules and to ensure that efficient monitoring, control and enforcement measures are in place. Through literature and discussion with experts, reasons for discarding and non-compliance strategies are depicted and genetic applications delineated that can help to support efforts against discards. This compilation of information and an analysis will be exposed to interested parties and a stakeholder consultation workshop in year 2 is proposed (see recommendations) to ensure that ToR C will address the most crucial issues of interest to policy makers and stakeholders charged to ensure the implementation and compliance of the landing obligation.

The field of environmental DNA (eDNA) is quickly evolving, and raises high interest in the scientific, marine management and policy world. As this bears great opportunities but also the risk of exaggerated expectations, a critical review of the field with the aim to ultimately produce a non-technical advice summary for decision makers was deemed important (ToR D). An evidence synthesis with emphasis on the identification of areas in which eDNA tools are already available and used and which might be valuable to fish-ery, aquaculture, and ecosystem monitoring was focussed on. An online reference data-base was created containing the electronic versions of relevant literature, which will be regularly updated and freely shared with interested parties. In summary the synthesis led to the conclusion that eDNA can be used to detect the presence of targeted species and/or to produce an ecosystem biodiversity inventory. In fact, eDNA is already used to aid fisheries management marine ecosystem monitoring and a number of areas where the approach provides invaluable insight in specific situations are delineated. However, chal-lenges with respect to the feasibility and robustness of eDNA analysis persist and need to be tackled. Complied information and material will be incorporated into an evidence synthesis paper and a non-technical review topic sheet to be produced in year 3.


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ICES (2018). Interim Report of the Working Group on the Application of Genetics in Fisheries and Aquaculture (WGAGFA). 15–17 May 2018 Brest, France. ICES CM 2018/ASG:03.