In Victoria, Octopus spp. are predominantly a byproduct species caught across various fisheries. Pale Octopus is not differentiated from other octopus species in catch and effort reporting in Victoria, making it difficult to apply stock assessment methods or catch rate indicators. Maori Octopus (Octopus maorum) are likely caught in the Victorian Rock Lobster Fishery (VRLF); whereas Pale Octopus and Gloomy Octopus (Octopus tetricus) are caught within the Inshore Trawl Fishery, Ocean Access Fishery (OAF), Corner Inlet Fishery (CIF) and Port Phillip and Westernport Bay Fishery (PPWPBF). Targeting octopus using 'shelter traps' within the OAF off Lakes Entrance has significantly increased in 2016 and 2017. The average catch during this period was ten times greater compared with the average catch taken from 2006–2015. With the potential for a developing fishery, management is lacking fundamental information to assist in guiding and building a sustainable fishery. For example, there is no requirement to identify and report quantities of species caught. This makes any sort of assessment impossible. Presently, two license holders actively fish for octopus with a capacity to have many more within the OAF.
Budget expenditure: $372,411.00
Principal Investigator: Jayson M. Semmens
Organisation: University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Project start/end date: 31 Dec 2019 - 30 Dec 2022
1. Species identification: * Develop identification keys to ensure octopus are identified to at least the three main species and to ensure collection of accurate catch and effort data.
2. Biological characteristics:* Determination of age, growth and reproduction information.* Determine population structure to inform appropriate spatial scale for management.
3. Development of appropriate biomass indicators and analysis for assessment:* Implement pot sampling regime to enhance the understanding of fishery impact particularly at relatively small spatial scales.* Development and assessment of performance indicators to monitor biomass and stock status.
4. Development of fisheries management tools: * Identify appropriate spatial management tools based on stock structure defined in objective 2a. * Identify an objective approach for setting limit and target reference points for the indicators developed in objective 3. * Provide an overview of possible management tools and their suitability for the Victorian octopus fishery given the identified biological characteristics in objectives 1 and 2.* Using a process identified by VFA develop one or more harvest strategy proposals.