Octopus


Latin name: Octopus spp.


  • Better Choice

Wild Caught

Region:
WA, TAS

Key Facts

  • Multiple species of octopus are caught in many different fisheries in Australia, taken mainly as byproduct rather than a targeted species. Only the WA Developmental Octopus Fishery and the TAS-managed Scalefish Fishery have been assessed, as they report high catches of octopus.
  • Although there is limited stock status information for species of octopus caught, octopus grow and reproduce quickly, and populations are resilient to fishing pressure.
  • Octopus are caught in baited traps and pots and in seine nets. These methods of fishing have low impacts on seafloor habitats and threatened species.

More information

  • TAS Scalefish Fishery (74t 2009-10)
  • WA Octopus Fishery (208t 2012)

A number of different species of octopus are caught in Australian fisheries, mainly as byproduct (species that are not specifically targeted, but are caught incidentally in a fishery and retained for sale.) Only the WA Developmental Octopus Fishery and the TAS-managed Scalefish Fishery have been assessed here, as these fisheries report high catches of octopus.

There is limited information on the stock status of species caught, but octopus species are generally short-lived, grow and reach sexual maturity quickly, and produce a lot of offspring. Species of octopus are therefore reasonably resilient to fishing pressure.

In WA, octopus is caught using baited traps and pots, which are selective methods of fishing that have minimal impacts on seafloor habitats and threatened species.

In Tasmania, octopus is caught using seine nets that target species of finfish, including Australian salmon. There are concerns over the stock status of some of these finfish species, including flounder and barracouta, which have not been assessed in the Seafood Guide as catches are low.

  • Say No

Wild Caught

Region:
Thailand, China, Vietnam & Malaysia

Key Facts

  • Analysis of fisheries that catch octopus in China and Southeast Asia is complex; octopus from these nations are caught in multiple fisheries, accessing reports is problematic and the quality of management varies across the region. Regional assessments of fisheries indicate that many species, including species of octopus, are overfished.
  • The Chinese distant water fishing fleet has generally under-reported the volume of catch landed and is subject to minimal monitoring and management.
  • Severe habitat impacts as a result of trawl fishing have been identified, particularly on coral reefs.
  • Trawl fishing has been identified as a key threat to vulnerable marine wildlife, including dugongs and turtles.

More information

  • Thailand (~880t in 2014-15)
  • China (~350t in 2014-15)
  • Vietnam (~130t in 2014-15)
  • Malaysia (~120t in 2014-15)

Analysis of fisheries that catch octopus in Chinese and Southeast Asian fisheries is complex, as octopus is caught in a number of different fisheries managed by different countries. These fisheries catch a wide range of species, including species of octopus, squid and finfish. In addition, accessing reports is problematic and the quality of management varies across the region. China also has a large distant water fishing fleet, which means that the vessels fish around the world, not just in waters bordering their country.

Regional assessments of fisheries in Southeast Asia indicates that in general, high fishing pressure on a range of species, including octopus species, in coastal waters has led to declining catches across the region, with many species of octopus now overfished. Whereas fishing effort was previously concentrated in coastal waters, overfishing has pushed fisheries further offshore, transferring fishing pressure to deeper water species. It is not clear from available reports what management actions have been implemented to allow stocks of overfished octopus to recover. Issues of under-reporting of the amount of octopus (and other species) caught in the Chinese fisheries have also been identified, and there is minimal monitoring and management of this fleet.

There is generally weak management to ensure that overfishing is not occurring, as well as a lack of information on the volume of octopus landed in any of these regions.

Octopus is mainly caught using trawl fishing gear. Studies have identified that trawling for octopus and squid has damaged large areas of coral reef habitat in parts of Southeast Asia. For example, around 80% of corals in Thai waters have been damaged or destroyed as a result of fishing gear impacts, although it is not clear what proportion of this is as a result of trawling for octopus.

In regional assessments of fishing impacts, trawl fishing has been identified as a key threat to a number of different species of vulnerable marine wildlife, including dugongs and turtles. Dugong populations have been decimated to the point of local extinction in some areas, and green, hawksbill and olive ridley turtles are caught in trawl fisheries in Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. Whilst there have been improvements in fisheries management in recent years, it is not yet clear whether efforts to reduce mortality of threatened species have been successful.