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.
See a list of all SR members.
6 Active Octopus FIPs
24 Roundtable Participating Companies
2 MSC-Certified Octopus Fisheries
4.5 % Global Octopus Production Improving
Q3 2023 Update:
- An updated sector report is available here.
- The SR has a new industry chair, Grupo Profand Sustainability Director Antonio Alvarez, who will represent the SR during events and provide support to the group. Additionally, the SFP secretariat will propose a co-chair, to have representation from another organization.
Mauritania improvement efforts
- The FIP has been published as prospective on FisheryProgress.org.
- A stakeholder meeting took place in Nouadhibou in September.
- The MSC pre-assessment shows that the major challenges are related to Principle 2 and the lack of information about impacts in the water.
- National stakeholders have demonstrated their commitment to implementing the FIP and have integrated it into the national fisheries management strategy.
- Contact SFP if you are interested in sourcing from this FIP.
Indonesia improvement efforts
- A new FIP was launched in February: Indonesia-Sulawesi Handline and Spear Octopus FIP. The FIP launch was attended by representatives of the national and provincial government, NGOs, fishers representatives, and scientists. It was also presented during the SR meeting in Boston. The FIP is in the process of becoming active on FisheryProgress.org.
- Contact SFP if you are sourcing O. cyanea and you are interested in supporting improvement efforts in Indonesia.
Yucatan octopus FIP
- The Yucatan octopus FIP is progressing and has maintained its A rating. New stakeholders have joined the FIP, and the volume of octopus included in the FIP has increased.
- The FIP, initiated and supported by the SR, is also included in the ITM program (in transition to MSC), and some of the FIP stakeholders have recently become Fairtrade-certified.
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 following are the workplan activities and participant expectations for the Global Octopus SR:
- Improvements in science-based management, in fisheries with market leverage (Morocco, Mauritania, and Mexico)
Support the development and adequate progress of ongoing or prospective fishery improvement projects:
- Mauritania: MSC pre-assessment ongoing
- Morocco: resuming contacts and developing a FishSource profile with up-to-date information on the fishery situation
- Mexico: monitor and support Yucatan Octopus FIP.
- Better transparency in fisheries management and the fisheries sector, and among fishermen involved.
IUU may be occurring in common octopus fisheries in West Africa.
- Reach out to governments related to national policy needs. Participants are encouraged to support relevant asks directly to government agencies about specific fishery management approaches and report outreach back to SFP and the SR. To support SR participants in these efforts, SFP will develop materials (letters, etc.) and engagement opportunities with governments (meetings/presentations) to drive fishery improvement requests.
- Non-managed small-scale fisheries with lack of market leverage and mislabeling issues
Improve fisheries assessment and management by developing and implementing co-management strategies.
Participants are encouraged to request and support relevant activities in specific FIPs to engage fishers and strengthen their leadership capacity, and to work with their suppliers to conduct a review of their supply chains to understand the extent of their sourcing from small-scale fishers.
- Fisher and fleet registration
- Fisher organization.
To support SR participants with these efforts, SFP will develop materials and provide training on co-management initiatives.
- Lack of market leverage
Expand industry engagement to the foodservice sector in markets in the US, Spain, Italy, Japan, and Korea.
- Strengthen SR participation criteria
- Review financial model.
General SR support expectations
- Actively participate in the SR – All participants should attend official SR meetings/webinars, respond to requests for engagement, participate in working groups, etc.
- Participate in and support FIPs – All participants should source from FIP participants (when possible) and support FIP action plan activities. Additional projects related to fisheries management development, co-management, and bycatch-related issues should also be supported.
- Monitor FIP progress and associated traceability issues.
- Expand industry engagement and include key markets representation by engaging Italian, Japanese, and Korean buyers.
- Agree to the SR workplan and complete and update the SR Participation Form on an annual basis.
- Contribute financial support to the Global Octopus SR: All participants are expected to contribute funding to the SR; the current membership fee is USD 5,000. On a quarterly basis, SFP will review expenses and present potential projects or activities that may need funding for approval.
- New applicants to the SR should apply for admission via e-mail to the current SR lead (Carmen Gonzalez Valles), endorse the agreement of intent (GO SR statement of Intent), and sign a non-disclosure agreement.