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Help Protect Giant Pacific Octopus (GPO) in Puget Sound

Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) will vote on what additional protections should be provided for Giant Pacific Octopus (GPO) in Puget Sound.

This upcoming Friday at 1 pm GPOthe Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) will vote on what additional protections should be provided for Giant Pacific Octopus (GPO) in Puget Sound.

Please contact the FWC and urge them to adopt Option D: Puget Sound closure to recreational harvest of Giant Pacific Octopuses. You can send them an email at commission@dfw.wa.gov

They need to hear from you before Friday, August 2nd.

At the last commission meeting in June the commissioners learned:
1) Only 1-3 GPOs are caught and killed each year by sportfishers, and those are "incidental" take--not targeted for.  There is no commercial harvest.

2) GPOs, unlike other (smaller) octopus species, are not targeted by anyone for eating--too big and tough.

3) The majority of people who contacted the FWC with an opinion favored increased protection.

4) The sportfishers who opposed additional protection--except at selected dive sites--did so because they have a philosophical stance against reducing any potential fishing opportunities--even if it generates more money for Washington state's economy.

5) People from around the world have weighed in, with over 50% of all respondents calling for the FWC to designate Puget Sound as a GPO Sanctuary--removing them from the list of species with a fishing season.

6) The state would benefit by a designation of Puget Sound as a GPO Sanctuary because of all the free publicity we would get in dive magazines and nature magazines, plus national media--media exposure that we cannot afford to purchase but will get for free if the FWC votes for a GPO Sanctuary.

7) This is not a conservation issue, it is an economic / ecotourism / watchable wildlife issue.

In short, no one's ox gets gored if a GPO sanctuary is designated:  no one in Puget Sound fishes for them, for sport or consumption, and the state will get a significant amount of positive press promoting. Puget Sound and Washington state as a premier cold water diving destination where folks can come to encounter GPOs.

Over the past several years there has been a lot of talk but little concrete action that shows the FWC recognizes and supports non-consumptive users (watchable wildlife viewers).  Here is an easy action the commission can take to show that they reflect the predominate values in Washington:  Protect the GPO--it is the largest octopus in the world, it is very intelligent and it is clearly "a glamorous megafauna" that adds a lot of value to Washington's underwater world.

Please consider contacting the FWC this week--BEFORE FRIDAY AUGUST 2nd--asking them to close Puget Sound to the recreational harvest of Giant Pacific Octopus.  Just because we can harvest them does not mean we should.  In the case of GPOs, they are worth, in real dollars through out of state ecotourism, much much more than we gain from keeping the season as it currently is: "Under current state rules, anyone with a valid state fishing license can harvest one giant Pacific octopus per day in most areas of Puget Sound."

Ask the FWC to adopt Option D: Puget Sound closure to recreational harvest of Giant Pacific Octopuses.

Please email the FWC at: commission@dfw.wa.gov

Photo credit: canopic / Flickr

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