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New Protections Proposed For Octopuses in Puget Sound

April 15, 2013 | KUOW
CONTRIBUTED BY:
Ashley Ahearn


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  • A giant Pacific octopus on display at the Seattle Aquarium. The species' population is considered healthy in Puget Sound. Public outcry over legal octopus hunting near Seattle's Alki Beach has prompted possible restrictions. credit: Flickr/canopic
  • Two giant Pacific octopuses in their den near the site of the controversial killing of an octopus last October. Harvesting octopuses is legal throughout most of Puget Sound. credit: Laura James
A giant Pacific octopus on display at the Seattle Aquarium. The species' population is considered healthy in Puget Sound. Public outcry over legal octopus hunting near Seattle's Alki Beach has prompted possible restrictions. | credit: Flickr/canopic | rollover image for more

SEATTLE — Right now it’s not illegal to hunt octopus in Puget Sound – unless you’re in a marine preserve or conservation area. In fact, if you have a state fishing license you can kill and harvest one every day.

But the killing of a giant Pacific octopus off Alki Beach in Seattle last October prompted a public outcry. Hundreds of scuba divers and members of the public submitted petitions to the state of Washington asking for better protection for the giant Pacific octopus in Puget Sound.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has responded, approving four possible management plans for consideration and public comment.

The giant Pacific octopus population in Puget Sound is healthy and actually doesn’t need protection from a biological standpoint, said Washington Fish and Wildlife Department spokesman Craig Bartlett.

“This is really a social value that the commission is planning to make,” he said. “What’s the best use of this resource?”

One of the four possible management plans would maintaining the status quo. Another would ban all harvest of octopuses in Puget Sound and the other two would limit octopus harvest in certain protected areas of Puget Sound.

Public workshops about the proposed plans will be held in Port Townsend and Seattle next week and the public has until May 31st to comment on the proposed plans.

  • Port Townsend, April 23 - 6 to 8 p.m., Cotton Building, 407 Water Street
  • Seattle Aquarium, April 24 - 6 to 8 p.m., 1483 Alaska Way, Pier 59

Here’s some interesting background on the giant Pacific octopus.

© 2013 KUOW
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Puget Sound giant pacific octopus
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