- Better Choice
- In Victoria, Octopus is caught in a new developmental fishery using unbaited pots, but traditionally the catch has also taken as bycatch in pot fisheries targeting rock lobsters, and to a lesser extent in bottom trawl, gillnet and haul seine fisheries.
- Although there is limited stock status information for the species of octopus caught, octopus generally grow and reproduce quickly, and populations are resilient to fishing pressure. Victorian fisheries target the pale octopus, though may catch several species.
- There are currently no explicit management measures in place to control octopus catch, though management plans are expected to be in place for the target Victorian Octopus Fishery in 2020, which is welcome.
- Octopus pot and trap fisheries are highly targeted, have very low impacts on seafloor habitats, and fishing poses a low risk to protected species.
- Choose pot or haul seine caught Victorian octopus if possible, as these are a more sustainable choice with much lower impacts on overfished or protected bycatch species, or seafloor habitats.
You can buy octopus either as smaller ‘baby’ octopus, as larger whole specimens, or as individual legs. While cooking octopus can be complicated, it doesn’t have to be. It is well suited to barbecuing, with a light char and a squeeze of lemon complimenting the robust meat. For incredibly tender results, try braising the octopus first. Slow cooking in a sauce of tomato, wine and herbs will tenderise the meat, making a delicious stew to serve with pasta, polenta, or crusty bread.
- Victorian Octopus Fishery, Victorian Rock Lobster Fishery (catch not disclosed)
In Victoria, octopus is targeted in a developmental fishery using unbaited traps and pots, which are selective methods of fishing that have minimal impacts on seafloor habitats and threatened species. Shelter pots (which are unbaited, attracting octopus by providing habitat) are used, with a small amount of catch retained as byproduct in baited rock lobster pots and in haul seine nets. These fishing methods pose low risk to seabed habitats and have low levels of bycatch. Octopus is also taken in gillnets and bottom trawl fisheries, which can have much higher levels of bycatch and more significant habitat impacts. There is little information available to assess the habitat and bycatch impacts of any of these fisheries, however.
Australian octopus fisheries are generally poorly understood, with little information on the species caught or structure of octopus populations. There is little information on the octopus catch in the Victorian Octopus Fishery which targets octopus and there are currently no explicit management controls for octopus catch in Victorian fisheries. A formal management plan is expected to be in place in the target Octopus fishery in 2020, which is welcome and may lead to improvement in the rating of this fishery.
While there is little information available to assess the health of Victorian octopus stocks, the small scale of current fishing mitigates the risk caused by this uncertainty.
Because pot and haul seine fishing methods pose lower risk to bycatch and habitats, consumers should choose Victorian octopus caught from these fisheries if possible.