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Ceph Related Fishing Industry News


Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
Our news feed often post articles on changing conditions and quotas that involve cephs (primarily squid). Where they are not generally interesting to read, I felt keeping a list of them over time might show trending and have started this thread to collect them.


Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
2012 - Alaska cod pot fisherman earn extra flexibility with new octopus quota

Alaska Dispatch
Jim Paulin | Dutch Harbor Fisherman | Oct 06, 2012

The giant Pacific octopus probably won't shut down the pot cod season early again this year in the Bering Sea.

Last year, the bycatch limit of 150 octopus was reached on Oct. 24, and the big boat Pacific pot cod fishery closed with 647 metric tons unharvested, according to Krista Milani of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Unalaska.

This year's limit is way higher, at 900 of any eight species of octopus, though the giant Pacific with an average weight of 30 to 40 pounds is most commonly caught by fishermen, said Liz Conners of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle.

Last year was the first time octopus had an individual bycatch quota, previously they were lumped in with other species, and regulators settled on 150 based on incidental catch figures for the Bering Sea based on the highest year of octopus bycatch in an 11 year period.

"We knew that was a low number, but we didn't have any better data," said Liz Conners.

A more generous allowance was set for this year, based on octopus parts found in cod stomachs, Conners said.

Conners said much is unknown about octopus populations, and credited marine agent Reid Brewer in Unalaska with adding new knowledge.

While octopus is commercially harvested off of Japan, Morocco and Spain, no directed commercial fishery is allowed in federal waters in the U.S., though states can permit it three miles from shore. Occasional efforts have been made by domestic fishermen, though with limited profitability, Conners said.

The Moroccan and Spanish octopus are smaller, though the Japanese octopus are the same as Alaska's, she said.

As for the pot cod fishery, Milani said 566 metric tons were harvested in the week ending Sept. 22, and 7,373 mt remain in the fishery that closes on Dec. 31. She said 14 boats over 60 feet long were signed up to catch cod in pots.

Processors were paying around 30 cents a pound for pot-caught cod, using the same big pots as in the commercial crab fisheries.

The Bristol Bay red king crab quota was expected to be set this week. Last year's quota was 7.834 million pounds, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Jim Paulin can be reached at paulinjim(at)yahoo.com


Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
Tracking Squid Catch Year's

Market squid catch over the past 15 years
By Aaron Kinney

[email protected]

Posted: 12/03/2012 12:59:08 PM PST
December 3, 2012 8:59 PM GMTUpdated: 12/03/2012 12:59:08 PM PST

Related Stories
Dec 3:
Calamari time! California oceans teeming with squidMarket squid caught in California in tons over the past 15 years.

In 2005 the state established a catch-limit system under which the season is shut down once 118,000 tons of market squid are caught. The catch has exceeded that amount in recent years, in part because squid are caught accidentally by fishermen hunting for other species. The 2012-13 season was called to a halt Nov. 21 when the limit was reached.

With La Niña having abated, the market squid industry is likely beginning a downward cycle, said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association. Despite their economic and ecological value, their behavior remains mysterious, she said.

"They go where they go and do what they do," Pleschner-Steele said. "We're still trying to have a better understanding."
1997-98 --10,898

1998-99 -- 11,699

1999-00 -- 127,248

2000-01 --124,378

2001-02 -- 102,667

2002-03 -- 47,039

2003-04 -- 60,224

2004-05 -- 53,884

2005-06 -- 81,100

2006-07 -- 38,366

2007-08 -- 50,635

2008-09 -- 40,146

2009-10 -- 93,616

2010-11 -- 133,642

2011-12 -- 134,910

Source: California Department of Fish and Game


Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
Florida stone crabs scarcity pushes up prices; octopus to blame

By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI | Mon Dec 24, 2012 2:28pm EST

MIAMI (Reuters) - Record low hauls of stone crabs off the coast of Florida are creating a scarcity of one of the holiday season's favorite seafood delicacies, pushing up prices and sparking a bidding wars among high-end restaurants.

"No question, there is a shortage and people are feeling it," said Roger Duarte, a former investment banker and owner of Miami-based supplier George's Stone Crab. "I have clients calling me who I have never had business with. Everyone is looking for stone crabs anywhere they can get them," he said.

During an average season, which runs from October 15 to May 15, Duarte, 29, said his fleet of 80 boats can pull in up to 5,000 pounds a day. Yet in the first two months of this year that's fallen to about 1,000 pounds a day.

At the same time Duarte said wholesale prices are up 70 percent to 80 percent. About 60 percent of his crabs are shipped around the country, mostly to clients in New York City and Chicago.

Buddy Becker, who runs a fishery in the Florida Keys, said local fishermen are laying off crew and downsizing to smaller boats to cut costs.

"It's a situation where you can't financially go out there, pull traps, put fresh bait in them and not make any money," he said.

Some fisherman have already called it quits for the season. But Becker thinks that such a move is "a little premature. We're going to let sit over the holidays, go out the first of January and depending on what we catch, we'll let them sit for another couple of weeks."

Fishermen and researchers are unable to determine what is causing a reduced catch, but many suspect it is a combination of a booming octopus population, cooler weather, rough seas and a lingering red tide, which is killing the crab's food.

"Every trap you pull up there's an octopus in there," Becker said.

When stone crabs get stuck in a fisherman's trap they become "sitting ducks" for octopus, said Ryan Gandy, a research scientist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "They'll eat the stone crabs in the trap and in some instances set up house in there because the food comes to them," he said.

Duarte of George's Stone Crab said his fisherman have also noticed the size of the octopus has grown, from one or two pounds to as much as eight.

Florida officials estimated 2.7 million pounds of claws worth $23.6 million were hauled in during the 2011-2012 season.

Though this season's figures look to be some of the worst on record, Gandy said the total catch tends to rise and fall over the long term. The number of juvenile crabs is stable or increasing, which bodes well for future seasons.

Diners only see and eat the crabs' claws. Fishermen detach them at sea - one claw per crab - and toss the animal back into the water where it can regrow the lost limb.

Besides being a rare, sustainable sea-food, fresh stone crab is known for its sweetness as well as the large claws with chunky mouthfuls of crab meat.

At the 100-year-old famed Joe's Stone Crab restaurant on Miami Beach, a half-dozen, modest-sized claws - served with traditional mustard sauce - can fetch more than $40 depending on the market price.

One pound of medium claws that fishermen used to sell for $8.50, now sells for $14, with jumbo claws fetching more than $20 per pound.

Fewer fishermen on the water could mean an even smaller supply, further pushing up prices further and forcing some vendors to dip into frozen stock to meet nationwide demand.

"I'm lucky if I can supply half of the demand I am getting," said Duarte.
I would love to see these 8 pound octopuses :roll:


Staff member
May 30, 2000
Thanks D- agree we should cluster fishery news that is ceph-related... I do find them interesting, but all the more when pieced together for trends, to your point. Thanks for taking this on!


Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
Octopuses Feast On Florida’s Stone Crab Straight from Traps

Another piece with TONMO ceph (James Wood) comments about an over abundance of octopuses being found in the stone crab traps for the 2012-2013 crab season.

Scientific American Octopus Chronicles By Katherine Harmon | January 4, 2013|

Florida stone crabs (Menippe mercenaria) are known to diners for their sweet, meaty claws. And octopuses also seem to relish these delicacies. Reports are coming out of Florida that the stone crab fishery is way down this year—and many think local common octopuses (Octopus vulgaris) are to blame.

The crabs are caught in traps, most of which have a main funnel-shaped entrance and a bait pouch inside, which lures the crustaceans with tasty morsels such as fish heads or pigs’ feet. For octopuses, however, it’s the trap’s quarry that is the lure.

Octopuses are voracious—hunting and consuming everything from crabs to mussels to snails to one another. So if the opportunity presents itself for a live meal that’s already caught, all the better for the octopus. If “a crab or two comes plopping in, [the octopus] says, ‘hey, this is not so bad—the food comes to me,’ so they’ll set up shop,” says Ryan Gandy, a research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission who studies the stone crab fishery.

And those crabs are a pretty swanky free meal. A plate of meaty Florida stone crab claws, served up at a tony Miami restaurant, will run a human diner upward of $70.

For the crab fishery in Florida, however, the octopuses’ feasting threatens to cost fishers a chunk of change. The state brings in nearly all of these crabs that are sold in the U.S. Its stone crab catch in the October 2011 to May 2012 season yielded about 2.9 million pounds, which is valued at about $26.5 million. As quantities of crabs decline, the price for human foodies soars.

The Florida stone crab fishery has been operating at maximum capacity for years, Gandy says. But octopuses might actually do more damage to the stone crab population than do humans. After all, octopuses consume the whole creature. In contrast, to harvest the prized claw meat from caught crustaceans for restaurants, fishers simply pull the big claw off a crab and toss it back in. The crabs can regrow their claws, although crabs missing a claw have about a 28 percent higher chance of dying [pdf] than those that have both their claws. In that way the stone crab fishery is somewhat sustainable (it has earned a “best choice” recommendation from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch sustainability ranking).

Image of old stone crab traps in Florida courtesy of NOAA/William Folsom/NMFS/Wikimedia Commons

The octopuses, although they are much larger than the five-to-six-inch-wide crabs, are flexible and can squeeze in and out of tiny holes. “Man, they’re wily,” says James Wood, a Florida-based marine biologist who studies cephalopods. In addition to a free lunch, the octopuses also use the traps as shelter. Gandy notes that he has seen plenty of crab traps housing an octopus with no evidence of a crab shell that’s been sucked clean (octopuses can drill into hard shells with their mouths, inject a muscle-weakening toxin and essentially suck the contents of a carapace out, discarding this shell).

Because of the octopus’s contortionist’s abilities, “I don’t think you’re going to be able to economically octopus-proof a trap,” Gandy says. Wood agrees: “It would be really hard to make a trap that would catch a crab and exclude an octopus—they are way more flexible than a crab and a lot smarter,” he notes.

Crab fishers frequently find octopuses in their crab traps. But some fishers are reporting more—and larger—octopuses than usual. One fishing boat fleet owner told Reuters that instead of finding two-pound octopuses, some fishers were pulling up eight-pound cephalopods in their traps. Other folks in the fishing industry report that many more than usual of their traps are coming up with an octopus—rather than crabs—inside.

So could a booming octopus population be responsible for taking a bite out of the stone crab fishery? Scientists note that it is exceedingly difficult to pin a particular change on a single member of the sea. Both crab and octopus population numbers fluctuate quite a bit, Gandy notes. Cold weather, for example, is good for the stone crab catch because it tends to put the crustaceans on the move—allowing them to populate other areas and getting them mobile so they come across more traps. Localized changes are common. But this is a rare year, Gandy says, in which octopuses have been hitting crab populations all the way up Florida’s Gulf coast—from the Keys to the Panhandle.

And octopuses are tricky beasts to track and count. They’re reclusive, solitary and often well camouflaged. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission does not keep consistent records on octopus size, but Gandy says that in their crab monitoring they have encountered more octopuses than usual. And fishers often have a better—if less official—beat on the seas. “Fishermen are in the water every single day,” Wood says. “So they see a lot of things that scientists don’t see.”

Image of stone crab claws courtesy of iStockphoto/mgturner

Whether or not octopuses are the main cause of the stone crab population dip is unclear. The ocean “is a complex system, with millions of things interacting with each other, so causation is really difficult [to determine] in the field,” Wood notes. Small changes elsewhere in the food chain could be leading to a boom in octopus populations; or it could be that another change elsewhere is already weakening the stone crab population.

In the meantime, Florida crab catchers are allowed to sell any octopuses they inadvertently catch, although they don’t bring in quite as much cash as the crabs the animals have been eating—especially if those crabs could have been contributing claws for a few years. No one, however, seems to be talking about starting up an octopus fishery. “Most of the world eats them—except North America,” Woods notes. Although it has become a popular appetizer on some New York City menus, octopus has yet to become a locally prized catch in U.S. waters. Maybe it’s somehow crueler than pinching claws off of crabs, but octopus arms also grow back, and they do have eight of them…(only kidding, of course.)

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