The octopus fishery in Western Australia primarily targets Octopus (cf. tetricus), with occasional bycatch of O. ornatus and O. cyaneain the northern parts of the fishery, and O. maorumin the southern and deeper sectors.
Fishing for octopus in WA can be divided into four categories – the West Coast Rock Lobster Managed Fishery (WCRLF) harvests octopus as a by-product, and historically accounted for the majority of total octopus landings, although the Developing Octopus Fishery (DOF) is now the major octopus fishery.
The Cockburn Sound (Line and Pot) Managed Fishery (CSLPF), uses unbaited or passive (shelter) octopus pots and the DOF uses both passive shelter pots and active (trigger pots) traps to selectively harvest octopus.
Recreational octopus fishing consists of bycatch from recreational lobster pots, and targeted octopus fishing, mostly by SCUBA divers.
In addition to these four main sectors, numerous trawl and trap fisheries land small amounts of octopus as by-catch.
The CSLPF is managed by limiting entry and through gear restrictions. The DOF is also managed through limited entry (there is currently only 5 exemption holders operating) and limits on octopus pot allocations specific for passive (shelter) and active (trigger) octopus traps.
Fishing effort is spatially controlled, with each exemption holder allocated a specific area of coast.
In 2013, the Department approved exemptions to commence trials on two new traps; a recreational trigger trap, and commercial trap prototype known as a “Sliding Door Trap” or SDT.
In 2015 the Department intends to conduct a review of the new traps as well as the ongoing use of shelter pots in the recreational fishery. The outcomes of these reviews will be used to develop more permanent management arrangements for the recreational take of octopus.
Each dedicated octopus fishing vessel employs between 2 and 3 people. In 2013, about 200 vessels caught octopus, although the vast majority of these landings were small ( less than 100 kg), as they were by-catch in the WCRLF.
Within the octopus specific fisheries, 6 vessels fished in the CSLP, and 17 vessels in the DOF. There is also a substantial
processing and value-added component to the octopus catch with factories in Fremantle and Geraldton.
Key Species Fished