Pale Octopus (2018)

Octopus pallidus

  • Bradley Moore (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Mike Steer (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Corey Green (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Karina Hall (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
  • Klaas Hartmann (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)

You are currently viewing a report filtered by jurisdiction. View the full report.

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Pale Octopus is distributed from the Great Australian Bight around TAS to southern NSW. Stock status is classified as sustainable in Tasmania, negligible in NSW and SA, and undefined in VIC.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Victoria Victoria CIF, OF, PPBWPF, ITF, VRLF Undefined Catch
Corner Inlet Fishery (VIC)
Inshore Trawl Fishery (VIC)
Ocean Fishery (VIC)
Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay Fishery (VIC)
Victorian Rock Lobster Fishery (VIC)
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Stock Structure

Pale Octopus is distributed from the Great Australian Bight around Tasmania to southern New South Wales. There is evidence to suggest that Pale Octopus shows complex biological stock structure, with a number of discrete subpopulations in Bass Strait (less than 100 km apart) due to limited dispersal and isolation by distance [Doubleday et al. 2008, Higgins et al. 2013]. However, further information is required to confirm the overall stock structure across southern Australia.

Here, assessment of the stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

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Stock Status


In Victoria, Octopus spp. were predominantly a byproduct species caught across various fisheries. Pale Octopus is not differentiated from other octopus species in catch and effort reporting in Victoria, making it difficult to apply stock assessment methods or catch rate indicators. Maori Octopus (Octopus maorum) are likely to be caught in the Victorian Rock Lobster Fishery (VRLF); whereas Pale Octopus and Gloomy Octopus (Octopus tetricus) are caught within the Inshore Trawl Fishery (ITF), Ocean Fishery (OF), Corner Inlet Fishery (CIF) and the Port Phillip and Westernport Bay Fishery (PPWPBF). Targeting octopus using 'shelter traps' within the OF off Lakes Entrance significantly increased in 2016 and 2017. The average catch during this period was ten times greater compared with the average catch taken from 2006–15 [Victorian Fisheries Authority, unpublished data]. However, actual catch quantities are confidential as less than five operators reported catch during this time. In the VRFL and ITF over the last decade up to 89 fishers have reported landing mixed octopus species with catches averaging 26.2 t per year. In 2017, the landed catch of mixed octopus species was 10.1 t and 9.4 t in the VRLF and ITF, respectively. There is insufficient information available to confidently classify the status of this stock.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, Pale Octopus in Victoria is classified as an undefined stock.

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Pale Octopus biology [Leporati et al. 2007, Leporati et al 2008a, Leporati et al 2008b]

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Pale Octopus 1.5 years, 1200 g Females 473 g, Males < 250 g
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Pale Octopus
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Fishing methods
Traps and Pots
Hand held- Implements
Management methods
Method Victoria
Effort limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Customary fishing permits
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Spatial closures
Indigenous Unknown (No catch under permit)
Recreational Confidential

Victoria – Commercial (catch) Pale Octopus is not differentiated from other octopuses caught in Victorian commercial fisheries.

Victoria – Indigenous In Victoria, regulations for managing recreational fishing may not apply to fishing activities by Indigenous people. Victorian traditional owners may have rights under the Commonwealth's Native Title Act 1993 to hunt, fish, gather and conduct other cultural activities for their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs without the need to obtain a licence. Traditional Owners that have agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic) may also be authorised to fish without the requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence. Outside of these arrangements, Indigenous Victorians can apply for permits under the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) that authorise fishing for specific Indigenous cultural ceremonies or events (for example, different catch and size limits or equipment). There were no Indigenous permits granted in 2017 and hence no Indigenous catch recorded.

Tasmania – Commercial (catch) Catches reported for the Tasmanian Octopus Fishery are for the period 1 March to end of February the following year. The most recent assessment available is for 2016–17.

Tasmania – Commercial (management methods) A possession limit of 100 kg of octopus per day (all species combined) is in place for holders of a fishing licence (personal) and a scalefish licence.

Tasmania – Recreational (management methods) In Tasmania, a recreational licence is required for fishers using rock lobster pots, along with nets, such as gillnet or beach seine. A bag limit of five octopus and a possession limit of ten octopus (all species combined) is in place for recreational fishers.

Tasmania – Indigenous In Tasmania, Indigenous persons engaged in aboriginal fishing activities in marine waters are exempt from holding recreational fishing licences, but must comply with all other fisheries rules as if they were licensed. Additionally, recreational bag and possession limits also apply. If using pots, rings, set lines or gillnets, Indigenous fishers must obtain a unique identifying code (UIC). The policy document Recognition of Aboriginal Fishing Activities for issuing a UIC to a person for Aboriginal Fishing activity explains the steps to take in making an application for a UIC.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Pale Octopus - note confidential catch not shown
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  1. Bradshaw, S, Moore, B and Hartmann, K 2018, Tasmanian Octopus Fishery Assessment 2016/17, University of Tasmania, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart, Tasmania.
  2. Doubleday, ZA, Pecl, GT, Semmens, JM and Danyushevsky, L 2008, Stylet elemental signatures indicate population structure in a holobenthic octopus species, Octopus pallidus, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 371: 1–10.
  3. Hall, KC 2015, Octopus (Octopus spp.), in Stewart, J, Hegarty, A, Young, C, Fowler, AM and Craig, J (ed.s), Status of fisheries resources in NSW 2013–14, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Mosman, pp 231–234.
  4. Higgins, KL, Semmens, JM, Doubleday, ZA and Burridge, CP 2013, Comparison of population structuring in sympatric octopus species with and without a pelagic larval stage, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 486: 203–212.
  5. Leporati, SC, Pecl, GT and Semmens, JM 2007, Cephalopod hatchling growth: The effects of initial size and seasonal temperatures, Marine Biology, 151: 1375–1383.
  6. Leporati, SC, Pecl, GT and Semmens, JM 2008a, Reproductive status of Octopus pallidus, and its relationship to age and size, Marine Biology, 155: 375–385.
  7. Leporati, SC, Semmens, JM and Pecl, GT 2008b, Determining the age and growth of wild octopus using stylet increment analysis, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 367: 213–222.
  8. NSW DPI unpublished, NSW stock status summary 2018: Octopuses (Octopus australis, Macroctopus maorum, O. tetricus and O. pallidus), NSW Department of Primary Industries, Coffs Harbour.

Downloadable reports

Click the links below to view reports from other years for this fish.