The traditional small-scale octopus fishery in Portugal: framing its governability

Cristina Pita, João Pereira, Silvia Lourenco, Carlos Sonderblohm, Graham J. Pierce

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) fishery is of substantial importance in southern Europe. This is the case in Portugal where the octopus fishery has considerable social and economic value, with small-scale fishing being increasingly economically dependent on this resource. The octopus fishery in the European Union is excluded from quota regulations under the Common Fisheries Policy, and hence Portugal is responsible for managing its own fishery. This chapter describes the current status of the small-scale octopus fishery in Portugal, its governing system, challenges faced by the fishery and implications of these challenges for the governability of the fishery. The Portuguese octopus fishery faces several challenges including those inherent to the biological features of the species and its sensitivity to environmental influences. Limited understanding about the resource has led to inappropriate monitoring and assessment, and a lack of intervention by authorities in the management of octopus. Although formal participation of fishers in the decision-making process for octopus management is a recent phenomenon, the management measures implemented over the years were the result of pressure from fishers worried about decreasing economic returns. However, poor organization, lack of trust and little cooperation between fishers results in them having little influence in the decision-making process. Several recent developments aimed at improving the governance framework and increasing the profitability of the octopus fishery, however, have the potential to improve the current management system and increase sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInteractive governance for small-scale fisheries
Subtitle of host publicationGlobal reflections
EditorsSvein Jentoft, Ratana Chuenpagdee
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783319170343
ISBN (Print)9783319170336
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameMARE Publication Series
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISSN (Electronic)2212-6260

Bibliographical note

CP was supported by the “Cátedra do Mar” UA-CGD grant “Sustainability of small-scale fisheries: Alternative approaches to fisheries management and governance”. GJP thanks Caixa Geral de Depósitos (Portugal) and the University of Aveiro for financial support. The fishery statistics reported here are from the INE and DGPA official statistics. Part of the information used in this book chapter resulted from interviews carried out as part of the “Cátedra do Mar” grant. The authors also wish to thank all the representatives from Fishermen’s Associations, Producers’ Organizations and companies trading in fishery products who took part in the survey.


  • Cephalopods
  • Europe
  • Governability
  • Governance
  • Octopus
  • Octopus vulgaris
  • Portugal


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