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Giant Pacific Octopus (CTA)


About a month ago I attended a meeting put on by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, concerning the Giant Pacific Octopus (GPO). I don’t know if you remember, but last October a fishermen killed a GPO here in Seattle (Alki Cove 2) and it created quite the controversy. If you aren’t familiar with this issue, please read the article posted on the Sea Shepherd’s website: click here.

After the killing of this GPO the community here started to protest. This issue even drew international attention, as the public was outraged. As a resident of Seattle, and diver, myself I was quite surprised to learn that the Giant Pacific Octopus (GPO) was allowed to be fished/hunted.

Right now, here in Puget Sound, a licensed fishermen can harvest up to 1 GPO per day, everyday, all year, every year. This gives one person the right (provided they are able to catch them and the octopus population would support this) to kill 365 Giant Pacific octopuses a year. Do the math and that is for just one person… 10 people could kill 3650 a year if they were able.

Responding to the public outcry the Washington State of Fish and Wildlife created a board/panel of citizen-nominated individuals to develop options for a vote to protect the GPO. The only area completely protected right now is Hood Canal

During this meeting I learned that there is very little known about the GPO. Rich Childers and Greg Berlin, shared a power-point presentation that talked about the known (basic) biology of the animal, the history of octopus fishing in Seattle, and the current laws now. As far as they can tell, the octopuses, are common and not threatened. This information comes from the annual divers octopus count here in Puget Sound.

However, I would argue otherwise.

We don’t know a lot about this species. The experts running the meeting even said as much. We do know that the life span of a GPO is 3-4 years. A Female GPO will lay 50,000 eggs that size of a grain of sand. Out of those 50,000 eggs only 2 (approximately) will develop to adult hood, reach sexual maturity, and reproduce. It takes the GPO about 3 years to reach sexual maturity.

Knowing all of this, how can we say this species is not threatened by a permit that allows a single person to kill 365 a year!? We haven’t even factored in environmental mutations.

It isn’t very well known how important to the local environment GPO’s are. However, every animal has a role. If you take out one, another will suffer… and so on.

I know personally that the GPO’s are important to the diving community, here in Seattle. I have seen the GPO dens, and take my word for it, they are cool! Crab and other animal remains are spread out at the opening, like a warning for all other creatures near by. If you shine a light inside of the den you can see a leg or an eye. It’s a really amazing experience.

The Great Pacific Octopus also brings in money from tourists. People come from all over the world to see the San Juan islands, the resident Orcas, and divers come to see the GPO.

While the cost in regulating a new law might be high, we are talking about preserving something much bigger. Here is a list of the options the board is considering:

Option A: Status Quo – no changes to current regulations

Option B: Marine Preserve – no recreational harvest of all species

Redondo Beach (map)
Seacrest Park Coves 1, 2 and 3 (excluding fishing pier) (map)

Option C: Marine Preserves – no recreational harvest of Giant Pacific Octopuses

Redondo Beach (map)
Three Tree Point North (map)
Seacrest Park Coves 1, 2 and 3 (excluding fishing pier) (map)
Les Davis (map)
Alki Beach Junk Yard (map)
Days Island Wall (map)
Deception Pass (map)

Option D: Puget Sound closure to recreational harvest of Giant Pacific Octopuses.

* The beaches listed under Option C were identified by the advisory group as some of the most popular diving beaches in the Puget Sound area. Not included on that list are beaches in Conservation Areas or Marine Preserves, where octopuses are already off-limits to harvest.

The advisory group is looking for public comment! I know from speaking to some of the members that they actually take these comments quite seriously! Please take a few minutes and send them a message explaining why you want to see these octopuses protected! THIS ENDS ON MAY 31


Anyone from anywhere in the world can make comments!

Take ten minutes you’d spend on facebook and give these amazing animals a chance!

-Elora Malama

6 thoughts on “Giant Pacific Octopus (CTA)”

  1. The first and only time I got to see an octopus it was inside crab trap. We could not get it out. It must have been 7 feet long. I was out doing acoutic research at the time. I had no say in its death. I held my tongue and learned that it’s life would be used to feed many families here in Alert Bay. I was used to fish for Halibut. I watched it change colour to blend with the boat floor. I prayed for it to die quickly so it would not suffer. I have something to say, if they are going to kill them then please do not make them suffer and hang there waiting to die. Fishermen should kill them instantly. I watched it suffer. It was awful. I cried at one point knowing that is beautiful creature was very smart. It took me a life time to get to see it and be near it. I have no desire to have them killed. It is common practice to kill them here. It is like hunting or fishing it is food. Limiting their deaths I agree with. We need to take care of all the Kingdom creatures in the sea, on the land and in the air. Take care, Robin

  2. I guess my first question is .. when was the harvesting law created and who was the law created for? General export fishing or local Native American food supply fishing? The one per day rule sounds like it was created for a local food supply .. a one per day/per family kind of thinking. True or not? Often we have seen great abuse of resources simply because the laws never considered the vast business mind around supply and demand. So perhaps the “original language ” of the law needs defined. What does the state legislation have on their docket this Fall?

    1. Well from what I gathered at the seminar, GPO and other octopus hunting was legal in commercial fishing up until 2000. That was then shut down and the law was then created for private fishermen to do a direct catch (no sphere guns). They do have to have a permit, and that permit allows 1 every day, every year (per person). I don’t know what the idea was behind the 1 per day law.
      Nothing that I am aware of. This is being done by Fish and Wildlife and local citizens that were nominated for the board. I’m hoping it eventually reaches the legislation. Sooner rather than later.

  3. The GPO in particular is a very intelligent creature. I think they should absolutely be protected everywhere. We don’t need them for food. The only argument I can see is if one was starving. This not being the case, the only other arguement is that we humans kill EVERYTHING, including ourselves! I wish humans would EVOLVE a little and see the beauty and preciousness of the many creatures in our oceans. I would not eat any octopus, any more than I would kill and eat my own child. That is what I think, anyway.

  4. Human beings are on quite disgusting when it comes to animals/hunting. From Japan and the whales/dolphins to Oregon killing the sea lions – absolutely disgusting. We should be protecting these animals – not destroying them. Wake up people before it is too late for these species. Unless someone is starving and has absolutely no money to purchase food – hunting is absolutely unnecessary and barbaric.

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