Other Octopus Species Commercial Catch
Total catches of Māori and Gloomy Octopus (mostly Māori Octopus) in Tasmania have fluctuated around 10 – 20 t since 2002/03. Highest catches in the past can be attributed to the targeted Māori Octopus fishery in Eaglehawk Bay. Two anomalously high catches in the Rock Lobster fishery match the current year (2021/22), and the first year of required reporting within that fishery (2000/01).
In recent years, catches have been dominated by the Rock Lobster fishery, with the exception of 2017/18, when the TOF appeared to target Gloomy Octopus near Flinders Island. Total reported commercial catch in 2021/22 of both Māori and Gloomy Octopus combined was 21.4 t, comprising 18.4 t from the Rock Lobster fishery, 2.9 t from the TOF, 0.1 t from the Scalefish fishery and developmental permits for Pale Octopus, and 0 t from the Eaglehawk Bay Māori Octopus fishery.
In cases where landed octopus where not recorded to species level, we made the simplistic but realistic assumption that these are primarily Māori Octopus. However, for transparency, data with no species name have been assessed and presented here as ‘Octopus, unidentified’.
Tasmania Octopus Fishery
Total Māori Octopus catch from fisheries targeting Pale Octopus using unbaited traps – the TOF and the developmental fishery – was 2.1 t in 2021/22, comprising 48 kg from the developmental fishery and the remainder from the TOF. Previous annual catches fluctuated between 0 – 2 t, with the exception of a 6.6 t peak in 2020/21.
Total Gloomy Octopus catch from these fisheries in 2021/22 was 815 kg, comprising 31 kg from the developmental fishery and the remainder from the TOF. The highest catch from these fisheries was 18.6 t in 2017/18, when the TOF appeared to target this species around Flinders Island.
Both species were considered to be at negligible risk from unbaited trap fishing in the 2012/13 Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) due to their low catches and biological traits, including their reproductive biology (Bell et al. 2016). In particular, both species have a strategy of a large number of eggs and planktonic larval dispersal (Gloomy Octopus: ~ 278,500 eggs; Māori Octopus: < 196,000 eggs), which contrasts with the holobenthic strategy of Pale Octopus.
Eaglehawk Bay Octopus Fishery
Annual octopus catch within the Eaglehawk Bay fishery fluctuated around 10 – 20 t until 2003/04. Catches were dominated by ‘Octopus, unidentified’ (presumably mostly Māori Octopus) prior to 2008/09, and Māori Octopus since then. There was a notable decline in 2008/09, preceding a ban on the use of barrier nets in this fishery in late 2009. Fishers also observed an increase in seal densities in the bay over time, and attributed catch declines to increased octopus predation by seals. Catch has remained below 3 t since 2008/09. In 2021/22, zero catch was recorded, following three seasons with catch < 3 t.
Rock Lobster Fishery
Octopus catch was not required to be reported by the Rock Lobster fishery before 2000/01. Since then, annual retained, landed octopus catch within this fishery has remained below 10 t. An outstanding exception is the first reporting year, 2000/01, when reported catch was 20.6 t. Since then, reported octopus catch has remained below 10 t, with a return to higher levels in 2021/22. In 2021/22, octopus landings from the Rock Lobster fishery were first identified to species level, however it is uncertain whether these species identifications are accurate. Total reported octopus catch was 18.4 t, comprising 16.4 t Māori Octopus, 1.6 t Gloomy Octopus, 0.3 t Pale Octopus, and 0.1 t ‘Octopus, unidentified’.
Annual octopus catch within the Scalefish fishery has remained below 4 t since 1995/96. Spear and hand collection are the main gear with which octopus are landed in this fishery, however a diversity of gear types and operations are responsible for octopus landings. In 2021/22, total octopus catch from this fishery was 126 kg, comprising 65 kg Gloomy Octopus, 47 kg Pale Octopus, and 14 kg ‘Octopus, unidentified’ (presumably mostly Māori Octopus); no landings identified as Māori Octopus were recorded.