Cuttlefish

Sepia officinalis

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Hook & line
Capture area — Western Indian Ocean, Western Central Pacific (FAO 51, 71)
Stock area — All Areas
Stock detail
Picture of Cuttlefish

Sustainability rating rating under review info

Sustainability overview

Sepia officinalis has been assessed as being of Least Concern by IUCN - The World Conservation Union. Although it is the focus of large-scale commercial fisheries, particularly in the Mediterranean Sea and off the west coast of Africa and may be close to being overexploited in some regions e.g. Mediterranean, it has a wide geographic range and is thus likely not under threat.

Biology

Cuttlefish (family Sepiidae) belong to a specialised group of molluscs, known as cephalopods, which also includes octopus and squid. In the North East Atlantic and Mediterranean, the main commercial species is the common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis), although other species (S. elegans and S. orbignyana) are fished in the Mediterranean. Cuttlefish have eight arms and two tentacles, like squid, but differ from other cephalopods by the presence of a significant internal skeletal/buoyancy structure, the cuttle bone, which is often found washed up on beaches. The common cuttlefish typically has a two year lifecycle, whilst in southern areas one year is normal. After overwintering in deeper waters, cuttlefish move into shallow coastal waters to breed in spring and summer. Females only breed once, and die soon after laying up to 4,000 eggs, which are around 8-10 mm in diameter and known as sea grapesa. They take up to two months to hatch. Males live longer, and breed more than once. Cuttlefish can attain body lengths of up to 45 cm and weigh up to 4 kg, although typically 20-30 cm and 1-2 kg is normal.

Stock information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Stock Area

All Areas

Stock information

Sepia officinalis has been assessed as being of Least Concern by IUCN - The World Conservation Union. Although it is the focus of large-scale commercial fisheries, particularly in the Mediterranean Sea and off the west coast of Africa and may be close to being overexploited in some regions e.g. Meditarranean, it has a wide geographic range and is thus likely not under threat. Furthermore, FAO statisitics indicate a constant yield of approximately 15,000 tonnes per year suggesting no overall decline in stocks worldwide.

Management

There are no specific managment measures for cuttlefish. Southern IFCA promote a voluntary Code of Practise (SIFCA Cuttlefish Traps Code of Practice) requesting fishers to minimise the removal or damage to cuttle eggs attached to gear when shooting, hauling or cleaning. Traps should also remain underwater until September. This allows any attached cuttle eggs to hatch.

Capture Information

Hook & line and jig fisheries are low impact gears, generally posing a low risk to other species and the habitats. However, cuttlefish are caught in traps when they come inshore to lay their eggs and when eggs their are laid on the traps they are destroyed during harvest or when the traps are cleaned at the end of the fishing season. The English Channel is the main fishing ground for the common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) in the UK where it is targeted commercially by a variety of fishing methods. It is also taken as a valuable bycatch in demersal fisheries, using otter and beam trawls.