Port Lincoln octopus business part of fishery study

A Port Lincoln based octopus business, SA Premium Octopus, is part of a research project investigating whether a viable octopus fishery can be established to help diversify the state's seafood industry.

SA Premium Octopus is working with UniSA researchers to assess octopus biomass, species and characteristics in Eyre Peninsula waters to determine if there is potential for an octopus fishery. The research is being supported by a Future Industries Accelerator grant.

SA Premium Octopus co-owner Leon van Weenen said he was granted a 12-month research permit from Primary Industries and Regions SA on Tuesday in conjunction with Marine Parks.

He said they were required by PIRSA in establishing a fishery to assess what stock was available, including biomass, species available and brooding rates.

"Through PIRSA, SARDI and UniSA we've put together a research program, which we're two months into and have been working on it for some time," he said.

"We've been able to put this together and put together a sustainable fishery."

About 200 samples of octopus, collected from sites at Tumby Bay, Coffin Bay and Venus Bay, have been taken to the UniSA Mawson Lakes campus.

UniSA project leader and marine biologist Dr Zoe Doubleday met Mr van Weenen last year.

Dr Doubleday said the first goal was to work out what species there were in SA waters, and then look at catch rates across different fishing zones subject to different fishing pressures.

"Once we get the data together we will meet with PIRSA and present our data," she said.

Mr van Weenen said after the 12-month research permit expired he hoped to be able to do a statewide survey.

He said the research was being supported by the rock lobster and prawn fisheries and there was no desire to take access to octopus away from anyone.

Mr van Weenen said he just wanted to "paint a picture" as to what was in the state's waters.

"For the state the octopus has been fished for a long time but it's only now that we're starting to bring it into the open," he said.

"With a bit more effort and time and a bit more money into it, it can create a bit more money for SA and have a flow-on effect for the state through exports, freight, packaging and marketing."