Octopus Pale

Pale Octopus

Octopus pallidus (Pale Octopus)

Illustration©R.Swainston/anima.fish

2022/23 Pale Octopus Status (Main Fishery - Bass Strait Stock)

Stock Status Depleting
Summary Combined with a decrease in CPUE across the whole fishery, which could indicate stock depletion, regional analyses indicate a shift in effort and catch away from previously productive areas in the western Bass Strait to the east. The Stanley region in particular is now showing signs of being unable to sustain the current fishing pressure, showing a significant decrease in both catch rate and catch, in addition to a continuing downward trend in CMSY estimated biomass results. The ecology of Pale Octopus and the species’ interaction with shelter pot gear means that this is a high-risk fishery.
Stock Tasmanian Pale Octopus - Bass Strait
Indicator(s) Catch, effort and CPUE trends; catch-only assessment; risk assessment of recruitment impairment

2022/23 Pale Octopus Status (Tasmanian Shelf Stock)

Stock Status Sustainable
Summary This stock has been minimally accessed by the commercial fishery. Developmental fishing permits have been issued since 2016/17 (excluding 2018/19); however, both catch and effort have remained very low (catch < 10 t, effort < 35,000 pot lifts). In 2022/23, an additional 0.23 t of Pale Octopus was reported by the Rock Lobster fishery. Given the low levels of exploitation, the Pale Octopus stock in east, west, and southern Tasmanian waters is classified as Sustainable.
Stock Tasmanian Pale Octopus – state waters excluding Bass Strait
Indicator(s) Catch and effort

Background

Targeted fishing for Pale Octopus has occurred in Tasmanian waters since 1980 and operated under permit for many years. Since December 2009, a specific octopus licence (fishing licence (octopus)) has been required to participate in the Tasmanian Octopus Fishery (TOF), which operates within Bass Strait, including waters to the east of Flinders Island. Two licences are issued, both to the same operator. The fishery primarily targets Pale Octopus using unbaited moulded plastic pots (‘shelter pots’; volume 3,000 mL) with no doors, which are attached to a demersal longline that is 3–4 km long and set on the sea floor at variable depths of 15–85 m (Leporati et al. 2009). Currently, a maximum of 1,000 pots per line is allowed. Octopus are attracted to these pots as refuges; pots are generally hauled after 3–6 weeks soak time. An abundant food supply may support a large population of octopus. When combined with a shortage of suitable shelters, this results in high catch rates.

No further octopus licences can be issued for the Bass Strait area. Pale Octopus catch from the remainder of Tasmanian state waters is landed under developmental fishing permits, and the accessed stock is identified here as the Tasmanian Shelf stock. Specific areas of permitted use vary among permits, but generally encompass waters south of 41° South. Each fishing permit is subject to specific limitations on the number and type of gear allowed in designated state waters.

The website is in the process of updating to include highlights from the 2021-2022 Tasmanian Octopus Assessment. A pdf of the complete 2021-2022 Tasmanian Octopus Assessment is available here:

Latest Octopus Assessment

Learn more about what each stock status classification means on our Stock Status Classifications Information Page:

Stock Status Classifications

Learn more about fisheries terms and concepts on our Science Information page:

Science Terms and Concepts

Fishery Overview

Management

Social and Economic Indicators

References