24. January 2022

A star is spawned: WA’s common octopus actually a new species, gets new celestial Noongar name


A sustainable food source

Octopus djinda has become a common menu item in restaurants around Perth and has made its way onto the broader domestic and international market in recent years.

Dr Hart said in the past 10 years more knowledge about the scale of the octopus resource had been discovered.

“Now it’s by and large Australia’s largest octopus fishery,” he said.

“We got up to about a 500 tonne fishery in 2019.”

The WA species only lives for about one and a half years, fairly typical for an octopus, with its estimated biomass of more than 3500 tonnes.

The fishery could theoretically sustain catches of 1000 tonnes or more.

The Marine Stewardship Council, an independent not-for-profit which sets a global standard for sustainable fishing, rated the WA octopus fishery as only the second to reach its high criteria after a site in Spain.

More than 350,000 tonnes of octopus is caught around the globe every year but only a small amount is considered sustainable.

Even within Australia there are some states where harvesting octopus is considered more sustainable to harvest than others.

The Sustainable Seafood Guide, an initiative by the Australian Marine Conservation Society, classifies wild caught octopus from WA, Tasmania and Victoria with its highest rating as a ‘better choice’ when picking seafood.

This is compared to Queensland and New South Wales where the guide suggests octopus should be avoided since it is mostly a byproduct from bottom trawl fisheries targeting fish and prawns.

There are 25 fishing vessels operating in the industry with newcomers like Abrolhos Octopus in Geraldton coming onto the scene in recent years while the biggest player continues to be Fremantle Octopus.

Fisheries Minister Don Punch said the fishery had plenty of scope to expand with an increased catch while remaining sustainable.

“Fremantle Octopus was awarded ‘Best Sustainable Seafood Product’ [by the Marine Stewardship Council] this year and is already appearing in shops and on restaurant menus across the state,” he said.

“I look forward to seeing its new, uniquely Western Australian species name ‘djinda’ help the fishery grow in scale to becoming a product we see on dinner tables across Australia.”

Fisheries Minister Don Punch and Fremantle Octopus managing director Glenn Wheeler.

Fisheries Minister Don Punch and Fremantle Octopus managing director Glenn Wheeler.

Fremantle Octopus Group’s annual report from this year saw the company handle $5.2 million in revenue and bring in a 134 tonne catch.

The company’s managing director Glenn Wheeler said in the annual report its key focus going forward would be on more sales growth in export markets.

“Sales are increasing to high-end distributors in China, USA, Singapore and Dubai,” he wrote.

“Strong interest is also being shown from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. International sales are currently 15 per cent of our sales revenue.

“In due course we expect international sales to become at least 50 per cent of our total sales revenue.

“As the world’s leading supplier of Marine Stewardship Council Certified Octopus, we are in a strong position where our brand and sustainability credentials will assist in driving further growth.”

Fremantle Octopus also saw its marinated product be distributed around 619 Coles stores in Australia as of March.

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