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SUMMARY

IDENTIFICATION

Last updated on 9 April 2018

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Octopus spp.

SPECIES NAME(s)

Octopuses nei

COMMON NAMES

common octopus, Day octopus, Cyane's octopus, big blue octopus, baby octopus

This profile encompasses fisheries in the Philippines for a variety of octopus species, including common octopus (Octopus vulgaris), Day octopus (Octopus cyanea), baby octopus (Amphioctopus aegina), Cistopus indicus, Octopus aculeatus, Octopus nocturnus, Octopus ornatus, and Octopus luteus. According to local stakeholders, O. vulgaris and A. aegina are the most abundant species, but aegina is not exported to western markets.

There is as yet no consensus as to the stock structure of these species. Therefore, this profile may undergo restructuring in the future as new information comes to light.


ANALYSIS

Strengths
  • The Philippines updated its Fisheries Code in 2015 to address problems with IUU fishing, prominently raising fines for illegal fishing. The revisions prompted removal of Philippines from the European Union's "yellow card" list, which threatened Filipino seafood exports to the EU.
  • Vertical lines do not contact the ocean floor and are a fairly selective method of fishing.
Weaknesses
  • Stock assessments are not conducted for octopus in the Philippines, and consequently little is know about octopus stock status.
  • While some general conservation measures are in place for all commercial fisheries in the Philippines, there are are no management measures specific to the octopus fishery.
  • Methods used in the harpoon fishery can have damaging effects on corals.
Options
  • Initiate stock assessments for Filipino octopus with the goal of, in the long-term, fulfilling the mandate of the amended Fisheries Code, which calls upon Local Government Units to establish Harvest Control Rules for the fisheries occurring within their waters.
  • Develop a strategy for effective protection of coastal coral reefs from trampling by harpoon/gaff fishers.

FishSource Scores

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

< 6

Managers Compliance:

DATA DEFICIENT

Fishers Compliance:

≥ 6

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

DATA DEFICIENT

Future Health:

DATA DEFICIENT


FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

No related MSC fisheries

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
Philippines Philippines Harpoons
Traps
Vertical Lines

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Strengths
  • The Philippines updated its Fisheries Code in 2015 to address problems with IUU fishing, prominently raising fines for illegal fishing. The revisions prompted removal of Philippines from the European Union's "yellow card" list, which threatened Filipino seafood exports to the EU.
  • Vertical lines do not contact the ocean floor and are a fairly selective method of fishing.
Weaknesses
  • Stock assessments are not conducted for octopus in the Philippines, and consequently little is know about octopus stock status.
  • While some general conservation measures are in place for all commercial fisheries in the Philippines, there are are no management measures specific to the octopus fishery.
  • Methods used in the harpoon fishery can have damaging effects on corals.
Options
  • Initiate stock assessments for Filipino octopus with the goal of, in the long-term, fulfilling the mandate of the amended Fisheries Code, which calls upon Local Government Units to establish Harvest Control Rules for the fisheries occurring within their waters.
  • Develop a strategy for effective protection of coastal coral reefs from trampling by harpoon/gaff fishers.

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 28 March 2018

Little scientific information on octopus is collected or analyzed by management authorities in the Philippines, nor are appropriate data-limited assessment and management methods used. Fishery catch data are the one multi-year data set that is available for octopus and many of the other commercially-targeted species in Philippines, but in the case of octopus catch volumes are not broken out by species, rendering it difficult to draw conclusions about species status and inform management of the fishery on its basis. Moreover, according to Anticamara and Go (2016), national catch statistics have other shortcomings that prevent their use in management: they do not take IUU harvest into account; inadequately account for overlaps between catches of municipal and commercial fishers; and do not capture the mobility of fishers and their landings, "preventing analysis of spatial serial fisheries depletion or geographical expansions" (Anticamara and Go 2016).

Under the Filipino Fisheries Code, the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI), a research institute that supports the development of sustainable and competitive fisheries, was created. The major project of the NFRDI is the National Stock Assessment Project (NSAP). However, the NSAP has so far been focused on fin fishes due to their national commercial importance. As of 2011, no stock assessment of the octopus fishery had been conducted or was planned due to its low volume of capture (Ji-Yih Yau 2011). Stakeholders queried in 2017 indicated that the situation had not changed in the six years that have followed (Piscano 2017).

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 28 March 2018

There appears to be no scientific guidance supporting the management of Philippine octopus specifically. As of Spring 2017 there are plans to introduce management measures for octopus into the management system in the future: specifically, seasonal closures and abundance limits based on historic catch data (Piscano 2017). However, at this time, there are no management measures specific to the octopus fishery. Some conservation measures are in place for all commercial fisheries including octopus: 1) the use of compressors is outlawed, 2) night fishing is illegal, 3) permits are required, and 4) fishers cannot touch Seagassum while fishing (Piscano 2017). Please see the "Manager's Decisions" section for further detail on the Philippine fishery management system.

REFERENCE POINTS

Last updated on 28 March 2018

Because stock assessments are not conducted for octopus in Philippines, biomass and fishing mortality are not known, and there are not reference points in place for these parameters (Piscano 2017). This is a cause for concern; however, it is somewhat mitigated for by the fact that the target species are productive and have a low susceptibility to fishing pressure due to their inherent life history characteristics.

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 28 March 2018

Biomass and fishing mortality information are not available for Filipino octopus, and no species-specific information is available, resulting in uncertainty about octopus stock status.

TRENDS

Last updated on 28 March 2018

The only two quantitative, multi-year datasets available for Filipino octopus are national octopus harvest and national octopus exports. Both of these statistics lump all octopus species together into a single figure. Harvest and exports have exhibited declining trends over the last five years for which data is available. In 2013, exports hit their lowest recorded volume, and were similarly low in 2015 (Piscano 2017). As for harvest, the 2015 harvest of approximately 4,000 metric tonnes is closer to the 20-year low of just under 3,000 tonnes in 2004 compared with the 20-year high of almost 10,000 tonnes in 1995 (FAO (Food and Agriculture Association) 2017).

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGERS' DECISIONS

Last updated on 28 March 2018

There are no specific management measures in place for the Philippine octopus fishery at present. A general description of the management system follows below, which leaves room for species-specific Harvest Control Rules to be developed and for conservation measures such as closed seasons, gear restrictions, and license quantity restrictions to be applied to octopus:

The national governing agency is the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) which is part of the Department of Agriculture. BFAR classifies octopus fisheries as “municipal fisheries,” which include fishing done in coastal and inland waters with or without the use of boats of 3 gross tons or less (Oceana 2015). The Republic Act 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991) specified that management and protection of all fisheries resources and habitat between 0 and 15 km from shore (known as municipal waters), are under the jurisdiction of the Local Government Units (LGUs) that operate at the municipal/city level (Code 1991). Thus, the primary management agencies for the octopus fishery in the Philippines consist of all LGUs with jurisdiction over coastal municipal waters; national agencies including BFAR are rarely involved.

Although management of this fishery is the responsibility of LGUs, management of the octopus fishery (like all Filipino fisheries) must also comply with the Republic Act 8550 (a.k.a. the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998) which consolidated all laws pertaining to the fisheries sector and superseded previous statutes (Code 1998). This code declared achieving food security as the main consideration in the development, management, and conservation of fishery resources. It recognized the importance of protecting the rights of fishers, supporting the fishery sector as a state, and managing for long-term conservation of fishery resources. This Act also established government jurisdiction over issuing licenses and permits, prescribing quotas, and closing any fishery it deems necessary.

The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 provided for the creation of three levels of management councils. The first is the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Council (NFARMC) which forms national-level fisheries policy and is composed of the Undersecretary of Agriculture, the Undersecretary of Interior and Local Government, and members representing fishers, commercial fishing and aquaculture, academics, and non-governmental organizations. The second is the Municipal/City Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Council (M/CFARMC), which advises LGUs on fisheries policy within their jurisdiction of 15 km from the coastline. The third is the Integrated Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Council (IFARMC) which assists with fisheries policy for bodies of water that span two or more municipalities and/or cities. The octopus fishery is not currently managed as its own entity or jointly with others by any LGU due to the low volume of capture (Ji-Yih Yau 2011).

The Philippine Fisheries Code was most recently updated in 2015, with revisions mostly focusing on combating on IUU fisheries. In addition to the entities described above that take their mandates from the Code, some other contents of the Code that are relevant for municipal octopus fisheries include:

- LGUs issue licenses and determine license fees for fisheries within municipal waters. License fees are determined in consultation with the M/CFARMC.

- LGUs are required to establish Harvest Control Rules within their waters per a 2015 amendment to the Fisheries Code.

- The Secretary of the Department of Agriculture can declare fishery-wide/nationwide closed seasons, while LGUs in consultation with the appropriate M/CFARMC can put into place seasonal closures and other conservation measures (e.g. net mesh size limits, thresholds on the number of license holders) into place (Oceana 2015).

RECOVERY PLANS

Last updated on 28 March 2018

In the absence of stock assessments, no octopus stocks in the Philippines are recognized as depleted, and no recovery plans are in place.

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 28 March 2018

Illegal fishing is known to be a problem in the Western Central Pacific, including the Philippines, where it comprised 34–38% of legal harvest in 1980–2003 (Agnew et al. 2009). Enforcement and monitoring are in place, but effectiveness of the enforcement and monitoring is uncertain. In 2014, the European Union issued a yellow card to Philippines, signifying that the EU could stop importing Filipino seafood if action was not taken to combat illegal fishing (Seafood Source 2014). In response, the Philippines modified its national Fisheries Code to put measures into place combating illegal fishing and ensuring their enforcement. Among the changes were new requirements that fishers use daily logbooks to report catch and activate VMS on board some vessels. Fines for illegal fishing were also raised sharply (Oceana 2015). In 2015, the European Union yellow card for Philippines was rescinded. While fines for illegal fishing have been increased, as of 2017 the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources had not imposed many such penalties, as it was still in the process of hiring control officers tasked with enforcing the new measures (Philstar 2017).

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

ETP SPECIES

Last updated on 28 March 2018

A number of Filipino marine mammals, sea turtles, and fish species have protected status under Republic Act 8550 (a.k.a. the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998), Department of Agriculture Fisheries Administrative Orders, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources Department Administrative Orders. Protected species include milkfish, humpback wrasse, all seahorse species, all sawfish species, all five sea turtle species, great white shark, whale shark, dugong, and dolphins. Several whale species that inhabit Filipino waters also have IUCN "threatened" statuses, including blue, fin, humpback, sei, and sperm whales.

The fishing methods used in this fishery are fairly selective and there is no evidence of impacts to the species listed above.

OTHER TARGET AND BYCATCH SPECIES

Last updated on 28 March 2018

Octopus in the Philippines are harvested using fairly selective, small-scale, artisinal methods. Hard data on the proportions of harvest accounted for by different gear types are not available, but local stakeholders estimated that 90% is harvested using gear classified here as "harpoons" (short iron pipes with a hook on the end that are used to pull octopus from shelters) by fishermen on foot or free-diving on coral reefs at low tide. Another 5-10% is accounted for  by vertical line fisheries. Some harvest by traps, dive spearfishing, and bottom trawling may also occur.

It is presumed that the catch in the Filipino octopus fishery is rarely discarded and almost fully utilized, with species that are not exported to western markets and Japan used or marketed locally. However, the gear composition of the fishery is not definitively known and local stakeholders during outreach referred to some species of octopus as "bycatch" (specifically, a species known locally as "white octopus" that is five-sixths water by weight and therefore not valued on the market) (Uy 2017).

Philippines
Vertical Lines

"Vertical lines" covers a broad range of techniques to attract the prey using a line and a bait. Natural and artificial baits can be used, as can jigs, and catch may be hauled by hand or using a hook. In the case of an unwanted species trapped in the bait, handliners can easily release the catch.

Vertical line fisheries that use squid and octopus jigs include significant propotions of squid and cuttlefish in their catches (ANCORS (Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security), University of Wollongong, BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) National Fisheries Resources and Development Institute, and BFAR Region V 2011). Common squid and cuttlefish species in Filipino waters are Sepia spp. (of which Sepia esculenta and Sepia pharaonis are known to be among the most abundant species in the region) and Loligo spp. (of which Loligo duvauceli and Loligo edulis are known to be among the most abundant species in the region) (Hernando and Flores 1981). The status of these species is unknown as stock assessments are not conducted. They are not inherently vulnerable species.

More information on handline fisheries, including vertical line fisheries, in the Philippines follows below:

Handline gear consists of long lines with a small series of baited hooks requiring constant attention. There are different types of handlines in use in the Philippines, including a) simple handlines or drop lines; b) multiple handlines; c) jiggers and d) troll lines. A simple handline or drop line is defined as a single vertical line carrying one of two barbed hooks and works by simply dropping it into the water and waiting for fish to bite. A multiple handline or multiple hook and line is a handline gear with a single vertical line and a small series of barbed hooks attached by spreaders at regular intervals. Jiggers are lines, each bearing a multiple hook device, which works by jerking it up and down under a bright light, making the hook lures attractive primarily to squids. Lastly, troll lines are long handlines, fixed horizontally with a hook or hooks at the free end, baited either with a natural bait or an artificial lure, and the whole arrangement drawn or towed behind a boat underway (Galenzoga and Quiñones 2014).

A 2011 survey of fishers in the Bicol region of Luzon Island in the Philippines found that  simple handline or drop line accounted for the majority of fisheries harvest in the region (82%), followed by jigger (9%), multiple hook & line (5%), and troll line (4%). However, jigger handlines were the most common handline used for harvest of octopus, as well as squid species, in Bicol (ANCORS (Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security), University of Wollongong, BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) National Fisheries Resources and Development Institute, and BFAR Region V 2011). Meanwhile, a study conducted in the city of Isabela, also located on Luzon Island, indicated that fishers use two different types of jigs/lures to target squid and octopus, respectively, there (Baleta et al. 2017). Finally, a study covering the northern region of Samar Island indicated that octopus and squid jigs are rarely used in that area (Galenzoga and Quiñones 2014). The three studies collectively indicate that there are regional differences among vertical line gears and a lack of a collective understanding regarding what proportion of the Philippines' octopus harvest is accounted for by each type.

Harpoons

"Harpooning" in this case refers to use of a metal, projectile object to extract octopus from their shelters within coral reefs. Harpooning is considered a highly selective gear because fishermen can visually identify that they are targeting an octopus before casting the gear.

Octopus fishing by harpoon entails "gleaning," whereby fishermen walk along reef flats at low tide searching for octopus holes. When found, the holes are prodded to see if there is an octopus present. The harpoon, described variously by local stakeholders as ("a hook with a long handle," "a galvenized iron pipe with a hook at the end") is used to extract the octopus. A second, similar implement may be used to break up the coral around the hole to extract octopus that will not come out easily (Saleh 2009).

HABITAT
Philippines
Vertical Lines

Last updated on 28 March 2018

Fishing using handline is presumed to cause minimal habitat damage, as handlines are deployed from a vessel with hooks suspended in the water column and not touching the seafloor.

Harpoons

Last updated on 28 March 2018

Harpoons (herein included any handheld gears used to strike the octopus, including galvenized iron pipe, harpoons, and spears) are unlikely themselves to contact the bottom during fishing, but trampling of coral reefs can occur when fishermen walk along reef flats at low tide looking for octopus holes (Uy 2017).

Traps

Crab traps are also reportedly used to catch octopus in the Philippines ((Piscano 2017), albeit in smaller quantities than the other gear types included here. Crabs are a main food source for octopus, and therefore octopus may follow crabs into traps. They may also climb into traps of their own accord out of their instinct for shelter.

MARINE RESERVES

Last updated on 28 March 2018

The Philippines is home to an impressive number of Marine Protected Areas (over 1,500, or one-quarter of the world's total number of MPAs). The majority—as many as 95%—of these MPAs are created at local scales, and 90% are zoned as no-take zones. However, according to the MPA Atlas, only 0.87% of the nation's Exclusive Economic Zone is protected in MPAs, because the average size of a Filipino MPA is quite small—less than 10km2. This coverage rate is far below the goals set by government: the 1998 Fisheries Code legislation calls for 15% of coastal municipal waters (within 15 km of the coastline) to be protected within no-take MPAs, and the Philippine Marine Sanctuary Strategy aimed to protect 10% of coral reef area in no-take MPAs by 2020. While there has been a large push to create MPAs in the Philippines with some impressive achievements involved, many of the existing MPAs are lacking in basic enforcement and monitoring, and are functioning weakly (MPA Atlas 2018).

The latest push for MPAs in the Philippines has come through in the form of amendments to NIPAS - the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System—which passed the Filipino House and Senate in 2017. The amendments promise to increase the repository of national-level protected areas, including 70 MPAs, by over 30%, through the national recognition of sites with local, indigenous, and international statuses (Villar 2017).

FishSource Scores

Last updated on 30 March 2018

SELECT SCORES

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2018 data.

The score is < 6.

There are no management objectives for Filipino octopus.

As determined for 2018.

Some general conservation measures have been recommended by scientists and are in place for Filipino commercial fisheries, but none specific to the octopus fishery.

As calculated for 2018 data.

The score is ≥ 6.

IUU fishing has been a recognized problem in the fishery, but anti-IUU legislation was reinforced in 2015 including the raising of fines. The score of ≥6 reflects that enforcement and monitoring of compliance are in place, but effectiveness is uncertain.

STOCK HEALTH:

As determined for 2018.

Because stock assessments are not conducted for octopus in Philippines, biomass is not known, nor is there a reference point in place for biomass.

As determined for 2018.

Because stock assessments are not conducted for octopus in Philippines, fishing mortality is not known, nor is there an F reference point in place.

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE RISK

High Medium Low
No data available for biomass
No data available for fishing mortality
No data available for recruitment
No data available for stock status

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

No related MSC certifications

Sources

References

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