Globefish Research Programme,
Volume 94 - July 2008
The most important octopus fisheries and markets are located in Japan, Republic of Korea and in the northern Mediterranean countries. Common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) is the main species produced, it is highly desirable and commands high prices. Quite important in commercial terms is also the baby octopus (Eledone spp.) fisheries in Asia.
Octopus resources, especially in the Eastern Central Atlantic are overexploited, and national authorities have taken draconic steps for the protection of the species. Morocco closed in 2004 the octopus fisheries for several months. There are some timid signs that this protection measures have paid off, and that the resource is slowly recovering.
Total octopus exports reached 220 000 tonnes in 2005, for a value of more than US$ 900 million. In volume terms, China became the main octopus exporter in 2004. Moroccan production was hit by a major crisis due to an imposed ban on octopus fishing. In value terms, however, Morocco is still the main octopus exporter, followed by Spain (several re-exports through Las Palmas).
Import figures for octopus reflect the general trend experienced in catch and export: they increased continuously from 1976 to 2000, to drop off in recent years. In 2005, total octopus imports reached 270 000 tonnes. However, when looking at the 2005 figures, there is a 50 000 tonnes, or 20% of total octopus traded, difference between exports and imports. This indicates that export figures are less accurate than the import figures. The Republic of Korea is the top octopus importing country and by far the world’s main octopus consumer.
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