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SUMMARY

IDENTIFICATION

Last updated on 6 March 2018

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Octopus maya

SPECIES NAME(s)

Mexican four-eyed octopus

Mexican four-eyed octopus is distributed from the US/Mexican border of the Western Gulf of Mexico along the south coast of the Gulf of Mexico and down to the bottom of Belize. There are some reports from Costa Rica but given the lack of reports from Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua these reports are currently not considered plausible. Peak fishing areas in Mexico are shown on page 9 of (SAGARPA 2014). Both Mexican four-eyed octopus and common octopus have highly changeable body shape and colour, occupy similar habitats and are of similar size, causing the species to be difficult to discriminate by eye, which can lead to misidentification. Both species are proescuted by the same multispecies fishery using baited lines on poles.

The stock structure is not known; In the Gulf of Mexico they are found to depths of 91m (SAGARPA 2012).


ANALYSIS

Strengths
  • Managers tend to heed scientific advice and are actively working to improve monitoring and enforcement, as well as reducing quota limits. A raft of improved legislation has been introduced since 2013 which should address many of the problems within the fishery.
  • The management plan in place establishes several action measures to achieve a sustainable octopus fishery by 2022 in terms of biomass and recruitment.
  • A closed season operates through half of the year and a minimum mantle size protects the resource. 
  • The 2012 annual assessment suggests the maya octopus was exploited at a level very close to its maximum sustainable yield.
  • This fishery method is not known to impact the environment and there is no bycatch concern for this fishery.
  • Spatial abundance reference points are used.
Weaknesses
  • Enforcement and data collection has historically been weak.
  • Current management uses spatial abundance reference points rather than a harvest control rule based on biomass and fishing mortality.
  • Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has historically been a problem with catches above the limits, illegal fishing during the fishing season with forbidden gears and during the biological closure. The artesanal fleet frequently catches undersized individuals.
  • Despite positive plans to improve data collection, compliance and management, no recent data or reports are available suggesting these plans have been implemented, or improvements have been made.
  • Illegal fishing seems to be contributing to an overfished status of the stock.
  • Traditional biological points are not available and a full stock assessment hasn't been conducted.
  • The resource is highly variable in terms of biomass. 
  • The blue crab primarily used as bait is fully exploited, suggesting the octopus fishery could be putting the sustainability of that species at risk.
  • Impacts of the fishing gear are not expected but there are no specific studies known. 

FishSource Scores

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

≥ 6

Managers Compliance:

10

Fishers Compliance:

< 6

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

≥ 6

Future Health:

< 6


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
Mexico Gulf of Mexico Mexico Pole-lines hand operated

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Last updated on 6 March 2018

Strengths
  • Managers tend to heed scientific advice and are actively working to improve monitoring and enforcement, as well as reducing quota limits. A raft of improved legislation has been introduced since 2013 which should address many of the problems within the fishery.
  • The management plan in place establishes several action measures to achieve a sustainable octopus fishery by 2022 in terms of biomass and recruitment.
  • A closed season operates through half of the year and a minimum mantle size protects the resource. 
  • The 2012 annual assessment suggests the maya octopus was exploited at a level very close to its maximum sustainable yield.
  • This fishery method is not known to impact the environment and there is no bycatch concern for this fishery.
  • Spatial abundance reference points are used.
Weaknesses
  • Enforcement and data collection has historically been weak.
  • Current management uses spatial abundance reference points rather than a harvest control rule based on biomass and fishing mortality.
  • Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has historically been a problem with catches above the limits, illegal fishing during the fishing season with forbidden gears and during the biological closure. The artesanal fleet frequently catches undersized individuals.
  • Despite positive plans to improve data collection, compliance and management, no recent data or reports are available suggesting these plans have been implemented, or improvements have been made.
  • Illegal fishing seems to be contributing to an overfished status of the stock.
  • Traditional biological points are not available and a full stock assessment hasn't been conducted.
  • The resource is highly variable in terms of biomass. 
  • The blue crab primarily used as bait is fully exploited, suggesting the octopus fishery could be putting the sustainability of that species at risk.
  • Impacts of the fishing gear are not expected but there are no specific studies known. 

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 6 March 2018

A formal stock assessment has not been conducted. The stock is evaluated according to a Virtual Population Analysis (SAGARPA 2013) and the resource is evaluated annually. As of 2013 abundance surveys were not known to be conducted, however this is a research priority foreseen in the management plan (SAGARPA 2014). 

Recent work has revealed the Mexican four-eyed octopus distribution changes by age (V Guarneros-Narváez et al. 2017), and further analysis has located key spawning areas (Velázquez-Abunader et al. 2012).

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 6 March 2018

Managers should implement the Fisheries Management Plan for this species (SAGARPA 2012), and monthly monitoring of catch and abundance is recommended (SAGARPA 2007). Scientists advocate collecting estimates of population and biomass, the scale of environmental impacts and illegal fishing (SAGARPA 2014) and maintaining the current fishing effort level, in terms of permits and authorized vessels (SAGARPA 2012)

Total biomass is estimated in the beginning of the fishing season and the advised quota aims to allow the escapement of 50% of the population for breeding purposes to ensure recruitment on the following season, as well as maintaining the size of the spawning population component, proportional to the population size at the beginning of the fishing season (SAGARPA 2014).

Annual quotas have subsequently (since 2013) been lowered in an effort to bring catches below MSY levels (SAGARPA 2013).

REFERENCE POINTS

Last updated on 6 March 2018

Typical biological reference points for fishing mortality and biomass are not available for this stock, owing to a paucity of historical abundance data. However an average density of 1,850 individuals per hectare is used as a limit reference in the fishing area in the beginning of the fishing season. Abundance has been varying near this limit. MSY-based reference points are a goal of future management (SAGARPA 2014).

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 6 March 2018

The resource presents a high variability in terms of biomass over the years. In 2008 the lowest biomass levels were achieved while in 2009 monthly estimates were above the average. The results of the 2012 annual assessment suggests the maya octopus was exploited at a level very close to its maximum sustainable yield. The management measures that are currently established (such as the minimum mantle size and the closure period), have resulted in stable biomass levels and catches (SAGARPA 2014)

However illegal events during the biological closure or the use forbidden fishing gears seems to take the population to an overfished status in terms of recruitment and growth (SAGARPA 2014). Current removal rate is unknown. The stock status is unclear.

TRENDS

Last updated on 6 March 2018

Catches are highly variable but the overall trend is a gradual rise from 10,000 t to 14,000 t from 1998 to 2013 (SAGARPA 2014) while biomass has been gradually falling from 25,000 t in 2002 to 20,000 t in 2012 (SAGARPA 2013).

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGERS' DECISIONS

Last updated on 6 March 2018

Managers follow scientific recommendations, quotas are coincident with what is advised. A management plan has been created for the octopus fishery, to jointly manage common and Mexican four-eyed (maya) octopus, though disparities in data availiability means the two species have differing levels of management available, e.g. Mexican four-eyed octopus has a quota allocation whereas common octopus doesn't. The management plan in place establishes several action measures to achieve a sustainable octopus fishery by 2022 in terms of biomass and recruitment (SAGARPA 2014).

DOF 12/21/93 establishes a minimum catch size of 110 mm of mantle length for both species in the Yucatan Peninsula. The use of hooks, snoops and harpoons is prohibited. For Mexican four-eyed octopus as of 2001, the catch quota is assigned according to an annual abundance assessment and has varied between 10,000 t and 13,000 t, with 10,000 t being the most recently available quota in 2013 (SAGARPA 2014).

Catch quotas are set annually aiming for a limit of 50% mortality, ostensibly an MSY target (CONAPESCA-SAGARPA 2008). A closed season for both species is in effect from December 16th to July 31st (with some flexibility) (SAGARPA 2014) to limit total fisheries removals; this window overlaps the spawning season but gear selectivity and female parental care buffers stock depletion regardless (Duarte et al. 2018). No harvest control rule or any specific measures are defined to anticipate reducing the fishing mortality if biomass drops (SAGARPA 2013).

RECOVERY PLANS

Last updated on 6 March 2018

There is no recovery plan in place.

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 6 March 2018

Enforcement of regulations has been weak and some illegal fishing is known to occur in both the industrial and artesanal fleets: during the fishing period or the biological closure and with forbidden fishing gears; undersized individuals are also known to be caught. Despite the measure to limit the fishing effort, fishing licenses are know to be cloned (CONAPESCA-SAGARPA 2008) (SAGARPA 2014). 

Catches frequently exceed quota limits, sometimes by as much as 68% in 2012 (SAGARPA 2014), and annual quotas have subsequently (since 2013) been lowered in an effort to bring catches below MSY levels (SAGARPA 2013)

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

ETP SPECIES

Last updated on 6 March 2018

There is a total of 90 marine species protected by law in Mexico (DOF 2010), including 18 invertebrates, 44 mammals, 17 fish (including five species of elasmobranchs), 7 reptiles and four plant species.

Mexico
Pole-lines hand operated

Last updated on 6 March 2018

There is no concern expected on protected species bycatch for this fishery method however there aren't known specific studies on the matter.

OTHER TARGET AND BYCATCH SPECIES

Last updated on 6 March 2018

Red grouper prey on octopus, which in turn prey on lobster; both species are therefore connected to the octopus fishery and its management (Lasseter 2006).

Mexico
Pole-lines hand operated

Last updated on 6 March 2018

There is no concern expected on bycatch for this fishery method however there aren't known specific studies on the matter. No bycatch monitoring is known to be in place. Blue crab Callinectes sp., one of the species used as bait is fully exploited, suggesting the octopus fishery could be putting the sustainability of that species at risk (CONAPESCA-SAGARPA 2008). Discarding information is not collected, although high gear selectivity suggests this should not be a problem. 

HABITAT
Mexico
Pole-lines hand operated

Last updated on 5 February 2018

Primary habitat types are well known (seagrass, reefs and rocks) and their locations well established by fishermen and managers. This fishery method is not anticipated to impact the environment in any meaningful way. Lines snagged on sensitive reefs may cause minimal damage but this is not presumede to occur with high regularity given the risk to the fishermen of losing gear. However, the total impact is not known (SAGARPA 2014).

MARINE RESERVES

Last updated on 6 March 2018

A total of 105 marine Priority Areas for the Conservation of the Biodiversity were identified in Mexico based on biotic and abiotic variables (CONABIO-CONANP-TNC-PRONATURA. 2007). Part of these areas (~20% of the surface) are protected by law through a federal net of 182 Natural Protected Areas (ANPs), 68 of them protecting marine areas. Some of those ANPs are also recognized as conservation areas by International organizations (RAMSAR, RAMPAN, etc…). Maps and information on Mexican ANPs are available in an interactive map. Fishing is banned in some of them (detailed information and management plan of each individual ANP can be found here). An MPA network exists (Parque Nacional Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano) but compliance has been flagged as an issue to be addressed in the management plan. No measures are in place or known to be planned for the non-MPA regions of potential concern, i.e. coral reefs (SAGARPA 2014).

Due to DOF 04/03/94 a closed season was established for octopuses in the Yucatan Peninsula, from December 16 to July 31 of each year, except when altered to protect fishing profits.

FishSource Scores

Last updated on 6 March 2018

SELECT SCORES

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2014 data.

The score is ≥ 6.

Quotas are being reduced to account for overfishing (precautionary). Current management uses spatial abundance reference points rather than a harvest control rule based on biomass and fishing mortality (CONAPESCA-SAGARPA 2008; SAGARPA 2014a,b). The management plan in place establishes several actions measures to achieve a sustainable octopus fishery by 2022 in terms of biomass and recruitment (SAGARPA, 2014).

As calculated for 2014 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the Set TAC as a percentage of the Advised TAC.

The Set TAC is 10.0 ('000 t). The Advised TAC is 10.0 ('000 t) .

The underlying Set TAC/Advised TAC for this index is 100%.

As calculated for 2014 data.

The score is < 6.

Catches have been overpassing the established limits. Besides, enforcement of regulations has been weak and some illegal fishing is known to occur in both the industrial and artesanal fleets: during both the fishing period or the biological closure and with forbidden fishing gears; undersized individuals are also known to be caught. Despite the measure to limit the fishing effort, fishing licenses are know to be cloned (SAGARPA 2014). 

STOCK HEALTH:

As calculated for 2014 data.

The score is ≥ 6.

The results of the 2012 annual assessment suggest the "maya octopus was exploited at a level very close to its maximum sustainable yield". The management measures that are currently established (such as the minimum mantle size and the closure period), have resulted in stable biomass levels and catches (SAGARPA 2014). 

As calculated for 2014 data.

The score is < 6.

Catches have been above the catch limits in the last 5 years. The "maya octopus was exploited at a level very close to its maximum sustainable yield" in 2012. However illegal events during the biological closure or the use forbidden fishing gears seems to take the population to an overfished status in terms of recruitment and growth (SAGARPA, 2014). Current removal rate is unknown.

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE RISK

High Medium Low
No data available for fishing mortality
No data available for recruitment
DATA NOTES
  • Total biomass estimates from (SAGARPA 2013)(SAGARPA 2014).
  • Reported landings from Yucatan and Campeche landing ports, which represent 70% of the national landings; 1994 to 2001 (CONAPESCA-SAGARPA 2008) and remaining years from (SAGARPA 2014)
  • Advised catch limits are available in (SAGARPA 2013)(SAGARPA 2014).
  • There is no specific target fishing mortality set at the managerial level and the current removal rate of the stock is unknown so a qualitative score about the Management Strategy is available (please mouse-over for further details). 
  • Catches have always been above the catch limits defined with the exception of a few years (2002, 2003, 2005, 2008). A qualitative score about Fishers' compliance was assigned instead of determining a quantitative score to highlight non-compliance of the fishing fleet (please mouse-over for further details).
  • Lack of biological and fishing mortality reference points prevents the determination of quantitative scores about Current health and Future health of the stock so qualitative scores were assigned (please mouse-over for further details).

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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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    Mexican four-eyed octopus - Mexico

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