Project to map Western Indian Ocean octopus fisheries

The mapping project will use the MSC Fisheries Standard as a benchmarking tool The mapping project will use the MSC Fisheries Standard as a benchmarking tool

A new collaborative mapping project is to bring together all stakeholders from across government and industry to benchmark the sustainability of octopus fishing in the south west indian ocean.

The project, which will use the MSC Fisheries Standard as a benchmarking tool, is supported by the Marine Stewardship Council, Africa Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and Blue Ventures.

Obinna Anozie from AU-IBAR, said: “We are very pleased to be involved in a project of this magnitude, greatly supported by regional leadership and aimed at ensuring food security and the livelihoods of western Indian Ocean communities.”

This will be first time that the sustainability of octopus fishing has been comprehensively mapped across multiple African countries and offers conservation and market opportunities.

It will be used identify opportunities to support stakeholder efforts to improve the sustainability of these fisheries in Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Mozambique, Rodrigues and Comoros, among others.

Artisanal fishing for octopus, mainly Octopus cyanea, has been practiced for centuries in the region. Octopus are an important resource for many coastal communities, especially in Tanzania, Madagascar, Rodrigues and Mozambique and are both consumed locally and sold for export to Europe.

The first octopus fishery achieved MSC certification in early 2016 (Western Asturias trap octopus fishery, Spain), interest in sustainably sourced octopus is growing.

Supporting fisheries in the SWIO region to enter fisheries improvement projects (FIPs), targeting eventual MSC certification, therefore provides an unparalleled opportunity to capitalise on this rising demand.

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