Octopus vulgaris (Octopoda: Octopodidae) biology and fishery on the shores of Nueva Esparta state, Venezuela
In the State of Nueva Esparta, Venezuela, the fishery of octopus Octopus vulgaris is considered an alternative activity by the artisanal fishers to diversify production and to increase their income. Nevertheless, the inter annual fluctuations that have been witnessed in recent years, suggest that this resource requires an urgent analysis of the species reproduction, growth, mortality and the fishery activity, in order to provide a scientific basis to develop sustainable management strategies. For this, weekly samples were collected during the June-December 2012 El Tirano fishing season. Mantle length (ML), total weight (TW), sex and stage of gonadal development were recorded for 1 268 males (9-25cm ML) and 818 females (9-22cm ML). The monthly sex ratio differed from one, except in June and August, with a high percentage of mature individuals in both sexes. Minimum and average sizes were: 11cm ML (428g) and 16cm ML (1 142g) in sexually mature males, and 12cm ML (476g) and 15.35cm ML (844g) in sexually mature females. The length-weight relationship of males (TW=0.7994*ML2.62) and females (TW=1.4552*ML2.33) showed minor allometric growth. Growth was estimated by analysis of the frequency distribution of lengths, using FiSAT software. Growth parameters, estimated by the von Bertalanffy model, were considered rapid, being L∞=26.26cm, W∞=3 769g, k=2.3/year, and to=-0.015/year, in males; and L∞=24.28cm, W∞=2 287g, k=1.8/year, and to=-0.09/year, in females. The maximum age in males was A0.95=1.3 years and A0.95=1.57 years in females. Octopus captures were directly significant with superficial water temperature, but negatively significant with wind velocity and precipitation, which corresponds to a study zone with seasonal hydrologic variability. The actual exploitation rate (E=0.61/year in males, E=0.60/year in females) was calculated by using the values of total mortality (Z=7.73/year in males, Z=6.63/year in females), for fishing (F=4.7/year in males, F=3.99/year in females), and natural (M=3.03/year in males, M=2.64/year in females), indicating that the octopus is heavily exploited. Consequently, we recommend regulating the fishery by reducing the fishing mortality rate.