Capture method — Pot or creel
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — All areas
Stock detail —
In general, pot fishing for octopus has the potential to be more selective and is less damaging to the environment. Effort control can be more easily applied (through regulating pot numbers or season), and minimum sizes can be better implemented, with undersized octopus being returned alive. However, given the variability of this species across its range, locally appropriate fishery management should be implemented, which also requires local population information. Despite a substantial artisanal component (local potting) the fishery for Octopus vulgaris off Mauritania, which is largely for European (Spain) and Asian markets, is reported as being overfished by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) (European Commission) (2010). Avoid octopus sourced form this fishery.
Octopus belong to a specialised group of molluscs, known as cephalopods, which includes cuttlefish and squid. Like all cephalopods, octopus grow rapidly, although growth rates and longevity appear highly variable and environmentally determined. For the common octopus, (Octopus vulgaris), which is distributed from western Europe to Africa, Japan and the Caribbean, biological parameters are not constant. Life span may be from as little as 12 months in the eastern Mediterranean, to 5 years in some parts of its range. Consequently, age or size at maturity, and the implications for fishery regulation of this species, should probably be locally specific. In general, common octopus are probably 8 months -2 years old when sexually mature, weighing around 500g-1.5kg (females) and slightly less for males. Octopus are solitary animals, generally inhabiting depths less than 100m, and more common in shallow water. Females lay eggs and guard them, usually dying after the eggs hatch. Egg production is relatively high at 100-500,000 eggs. Males are also thought to die shortly after reproduction. Common octopus may be identified by a double row of suckers on each arm.
No assessment of stocks by ICES in North East Atlantic. It is a non-pressure or unprotected species, i.e. not subject to quota restrictions. There is no assessment of stocks by ICES and no fishery management is in place, except an EU minimum landing weight of 750g.
FAO estimates for fishery production for this species were around 50,000 tonnes in 2001, with significant fisheries off Japan and West Africa. More recent estimates for all ICES regions (N E Atlantic) indicate around 18,630t for combined O.vulgaris and E. cirrhosa in 2006 (ICES WGCEPH, 2010). More than 95% of landings within these regions are taken by Portugal and Spain, with Spain taking the vast majority. It is mostly taken as bycatch in trawl fisheries for other species. The minimum landing weight for octopus in EU waters is 750g. In the Mediterranean, octopus are also captured in earthenware pots, which they enter instinctively in order to hide.
Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.Abalone
Clam, Manila (Farmed)
Crab, brown or edible
Lobster, Norway, Langoustine, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi
Mussel, Chilean (Farmed)
Mussel, mussels (Farmed)
Oyster, Native, oysters (Caught at sea)
Oyster, Native, oysters (Farmed)
Oyster, Pacific, oysters (Caught at sea)
Oyster, Pacific, oysters (Farmed)
Prawn, King (whiteleg), prawns
Prawn, Northern prawns, Northern shrimp
Prawn, Tiger prawns (Farmed)
Scallop, King, scallops
Squid, Japanese flying