Supply Chain Roundtable

Global Octopus

The Global Octopus Supply Chain Roundtable (SR) includes octopus processing, importing, and exporting companies from around the world working together to promote the implementation of fishery improvement projects (FIPs) in key octopus fisheries, monitor the progress of those FIPs, and provide support if necessary. While the scope of the SR is global, the participants have defined a priority set of common octopus and red octopus fisheries and countries to focus on in the short term, including Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Portugal, Senegal, and Spain. These countries are identified as the most likely to see sustainability initiatives emerging, due to existing interest, market leverage, and availability of national connections with different stakeholders.

SFP has identified other producing countries of interest (Chile, Indonesia, Peru, and the Philippines) where other species (O. cyanea, O. mimus, and E. megalocyathus) are harvested and exported to US and EU markets. The big blue octopus (O. cyanea) has recently been added to the scope of the SR.

Participation of the southern European seafood industry in the SR is essential to mobilize EU production and could play a critical role in triggering improvements in other areas of influence, due to its global relevance as an importer, processor, and re-exporter of octopus products. 

Looking to the future, the key to reaching the goals of T75 will be engaging Chinese and Vietnamese fisheries, which in turn requires engagement with their domestic markets, as well as export markets in Japan and South Korea.

Sector Snapshot

6 Octopus FIPs

20 Roundtable Participating Companies

2 Certified/Sustainable Octopus Fisheries

4.5 % Global Octopus Production Improving

Join This Roundtable

To join this Supply Chain Roundtable or for more information, please contact Carmen Gonzalez Valles or call SFP at 1-808-726-2582.

Q3 2021 Update:

  • The Yucatan Octopus FIP has established an industry steering committee and is defining the requirements to become a FIP stakeholder and amend the current MoU. Please contact the FIP coordinators for further information. The FIP is in stage 5, rated A, and must be updated by August 2021.
  • Conversations with Mauritanian stakeholders to resume pre-FIP work have re-started, and some meetings with members of the new government have taken place. Please contact SFP for further information.
  • The pre-FIP work in Morocco is still on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions and the impossibility of connecting with key national stakeholders. 
  • The big blue octopus (O. cyanea) was recently added to the scope of the SR, and a specific working group will work on non-common octopus fisheries. Please contact SFP if you would like to participate in this group.

Sector Background

Currently, 4.5 percent of global octopus production is sustainable or improving, but the existing supply chain leverage may be able to influence about 35 percent of global production where there are already initiatives underway to launch FIPs in major fisheries.

The octopus sector comprises all octopus species (families Octopodidae, Eledonidae). Octopuses are mostly traded frozen; only small volumes are traded fresh/prepared or preserved. Octopus have high natural mortality and sensitivity to environmental conditions, so classic management measures may not be adequate for some species. At a global scale, the majority of octopus production is from artisanal fishing spread out across large areas and involving many vessels, fishers, and low-impact fishing gears. A relevant volume of octopus is also caught as bycatch in bottom-trawl fisheries. 

The artisanal and geographically distributed nature of octopus fisheries also necessitates a co-management approach, which will require investments in basic fisheries management in some countries. 

The octopus sector can be divided into two sub-sectors with differentiated markets, depending on the size of the species. Large octopus species, such O. vulgaris, O. maya, O. cyanea, O. mimus, or O. americanus, are typically sold as a main seafood item in the EU and the Americas, while other smaller species, known as “baby octopus,” such as those from the genus Eledone or Amphioctopus, are more often used in mixed seafood preparations. 

The large octopus market sub-sector is predominantly driven by O. vulgaris, due to its quality and volume availability as well as its position in the market. This species is known at the consumer level as “Spanish octopus” in North America and EU markets, due to the relevance the Spanish industry and gastronomy has had in popularizing its consumption. This has led other large octopus species to be used as a substitute of O. vulgaris and O.maya in the marketplace. However, the competition to occupy a secondary niche of the market has not been accompanied by the creation of individual identities for other species (O. cyanea and O. mimus), therefore leading in some cases to low quality and mislabeling along the supply chain from the exporting countries.

Activity & Workplan

The Global Octopus SR’s current objectives include 

  1. Gather further knowledge on sustainability status of relevant octopus fisheries by developing FishSource profiles (EU – Portugal and Spain; Latin America – Peru and Chile; Southeast Asia – China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam) and identifying a portfolio of management best practices for octopus fisheries.
  2. Support fully operational FIPs published on FisheryProgress.org.
  3. Catalyze FIPs in Mauritania, Morocco, and Senegal, including a model for improvement work in small-scale octopus fisheries.
  4. Expand SR participation into Southern Europe, Japan, and South Korea. 
  5. Increase SR influence over octopus fisheries in Indonesia and the Philippines. 

SFP’s current action recommendations for interested SR participants include:

  1. Join letters of support for Mauritania, Morocco, and the Philippines to motivate national stakeholders to engage in improvement initiatives and launch FIPs.
  2. Connect with your vendors in Indonesia, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, the Philippines, and Senegal and encourage them to be part of the improvement efforts underway.
  3. Facilitate SFP introductions to Italian, South Korean, and Japanese companies.
  4. Invite further participation by like-minded industry.
  5. Support and engage suppliers on existing FIPs.
  6. Identify other geographies of interest and share them with SFP.

Join This Roundtable

To join this Supply Chain Roundtable or for more information, please contact Carmen Gonzalez Valles or call SFP at 1-808-726-2582.