The Giant Pacific Octopus or GPO, who lives throughout the Pacific Northwest (if terrestrial terms) or Northeast (in oceanic terms), has never been the target of a federally managed commercial fishery. But occasionally people murmur about it, and some clever folks have decided that we'd better know a bit more about octopus biology before such a fishery (octopussery?) comes on the scene.
Right now, scientists still have very basic questions about the GPO's reproduction and migration habits. If they answer some of these questions and implement smart management from the get-go, they might actually be able to prevent the "universal fishery curve" of boom-and-bust. Remarkable!
Of course, this shouldn't surprise us too much coming from Alaska, the poster child for sustainable fishing.
Okay, yes, I know this isn't a squid. But it was a Giant Pacific Octopus at the Monterey Bay Aquarium that first enraptured me at a tender age, starting me down the path of cephalopodiatry. So the GPO gets a special place in my heart and blog.
To be honestly sentimental, I'd rather that a fishery for this beautiful, shy, intelligent animal never appears. And it may never do so--this research initiative isn't a presage. In any case, I'm glad that we'll be learning more about this species, and comforted to think that even if the fishery comes, it's likely to be well-managed.
Our children and grandchildren will still be able to witness the wonder of the Giant Pacific Octopus!