Two new sector reports by Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) find that, while the reported production and trade of octopus and mahi-mahi have increased significantly in recent decades, a lack of data and inadequate regulations present a challenge to sustainable management of these fisheries. 

The two reports shed light on the growing importance of both commodities in the global seafood market, and the need for increased market-based initiatives and support to help address common key challenges that both sectors face. 

These challenges include limited data and understanding on stock status and exploitation levels for most of the octopus and mahi populations, as well as deficient or inadequate regulations to control exploitation levels.

“Understanding the changing production and trade flows in global mahi and octopus fisheries is critical to pinpointing opportunities to leverage improvement efforts. These two sectors deserve special attention because many of the main fisheries are artisanal or small-scale, requiring a focus on improving fisher engagement and their collaboration with science and management authorities, “ stated Enrique Alonso, SFP’s Global Fisheries Director. “The reports show that the two sectors face different challenges and the results should serve as a call to global supply chains to take urgent action to ensure that measurable progress in sustainability performance is achieved.”

The two reports cover availability of fisheries data; fisheries production and trade; stock status, exploitation levels, and management performance; certification and improvement initiatives; and impacts on non-target species and the ecosystem.

Key findings from Octopus: A global summary of the situation in terms of production and trade include:

  • Global octopus production has grown steadily, surpassing 500,000 tonnes in recent years. Key producing countries include Viet Nam, China, Morocco and Mexico.
  • Octopus trade has also expanded. Major importers include South Korea, Spain and Italy, while major exporters include China, Morocco and Mauritania.
  • Although the number of octopus fishery improvement projects is increasing, most of the sector production is not covered by market-based initiatives to improve fisheries sustainability.

Key findings from Mahi-Mahi: A summary of the global situation in terms of production, trade, and sustainability challenges include:

  • The reported wild capture of mahi-mahi has steadily increased over the past three decades, from about 20,000 tonnes per year in the 1980s to about 120,000 tonnes today. 
  • Peru, Indonesia and Ecuador are currently the top three mahi-mahi producing countries. Virtually all of their exports go to the United States, which accounts for more than 90% of global mahi-mahi imports by quantity and 99% by value.
  • Management of mahi-mahi fisheries has been ineffective in controlling exploitation levels or addressing bycatch and impacts on non-target species such as turtles, seabirds, and sharks.

These two reports are part of SFP’s ongoing series of summary and sector-specific sustainability updates. For more on these reports, please visit the Sector Sustainability Updates page on SFP’s website.