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Keywords:

  • Cephalopods;
  • Climprod;
  • environment;
  • fisheries;
  • octopus;
  • Octopus vulgaris;
  • rainfall;
  • sea surface temperature;
  • time series;
  • Tunisia;
  • variability

Abstract

Octopus (Octopus vulgaris, Mollusca, Cephalopoda) is an important and valuable fishery resource on the eastern and southern coasts of Tunisia, but its landings are highly variable. This paper explores the effect of environment on octopus catch per unit effort (CPUE) during a 12-year period, through correlation analyses and the incorporation into surplus production models of sea surface temperature (SST) and rainfall data collected during cold (January–May) and hot (August–October) seasons. CLIMPROD software was used to select the appropriate model and fit it to the fishery and environment data. In both seasons, SST significantly contributed to CPUE variability; fishery production was influenced positively by cold season SST but negatively by hot season SST. Due to a poor fit with cold season data, the impact of rainfall was analysed only for the hot season, during which it has a positive effect on production. Results are discussed in view of the life-cycle of octopus and the dynamics of the Tunisian fishery. This first study of octopus variability in Tunisia highlights the necessity to incorporate environmental influence into stock assessment and management advice.