Octopus Fishery Overview

Octopus Fishery Overview

Primary species: Octopus pallidus (Pale Octopus)

Secondary species: Octopus tetricus (Gloomy Octopus), Macroctopus maorum (Māori Octopus)

L-R: Pale Octopus, Māori Octopus, Gloomy Octopus
Illustration©R.Swainston/anima.fish

Octopus are caught commercially in Tasmanian waters across multiple fisheries using a range of gear types. The three recorded species are Pale Octopus (Octopus pallidus), Gloomy Octopus (Octopus tetricus), and Māori Octopus (Macroctopus maorum). Most catch comes from a targeted unbaited trap fishery for Pale Octopus in northern Tasmania, primarily Bass Strait, by fishers operating under the fishing licence (octopus). This fishery is referred to as the Tasmanian Octopus Fishery (TOF) by IMAS, and by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (NRE Tas). Holders of the fishing licence (octopus) also retain small quantities of Māori Octopus as by-product and take occasional landings of Gloomy Octopus in years when the fishery extends towards eastern Bass Strait. Given that the TOF targets Pale Octopus and represents the majority of octopus catches in Tasmania, it is the focus of stock assessments. Developmental permits for targeting Pale Octopus in Tasmanian waters exclusive of Bass Strait have also been issued in recent years, but operators retain substantially smaller quantities than those operating under licence in the Bass Strait.

The Scalefish and Rock Lobster fisheries take octopus as by-product. The Giant Crab fishery operates using similar gear to the Rock Lobster fishery; however, no octopus are recorded in Giant Crab fishery returns data. Species information has not always been recorded for octopus landed within the Scalefish and Rock Lobster fisheries, but the majority is Māori Octopus. Based on the low incidence of Gloomy Octopus and Pale Octopus in observer sampling from these fisheries, landings are considered negligible.

Until late 2009, a targeted fishery for Māori Octopus existed in Eaglehawk Bay using hand collection and barrier nets. Catches in this local fishery declined significantly and remained very low after the permit ceased to allow the use of barrier nets.  Aboriginal cultural catch and recreational catch of octopus species is known to occur, mainly as bycatch from line fishing or diving, but catches appear negligible based on survey data from recreational fishers.

Surveys suggest that octopus species are not a key recreational fishery target in Tasmania (Lyle, 2005; Lyle et al., 2009; Lyle et al., 2014; Lyle et al., 2019).


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