The jewel of the seas

The demand for octopus has increased while catches in Galicia have fallen.
The demand for octopus has increased while catches in Galicia have fallen. / SUR
  • The scarcity and increased demand for octopus has increased the price of this delicacy by 26%

For the first time in recent years the price of octopus has gone above 15 euros a kilo and has increased for the frozen product too.

Octopus has become a luxury delicacy that is difficult to find even in the fish markets. Some shops have stopped offering it as they don't want to be left with stock that they can't sell because of the price which has increased by 26 per cent compared to last year, and by 45 per cent compared to 2016.

Around fifty fishing boats in the province have a licence to catch octopus with special pots and baskets and this is the first time that the income from the catch of this species has been the highest in all five local fishing ports this year.

"Prices at the fish auctions have been very high and have stayed high throughout the season," according to the Malaga Federación de Cofradías de Pescadores, Miguel Ángel Carmona.

The low number of octopus caught between January and June has raised the prices and already the income so far this year is more than the total income from octopus last year.

The sector have stated that there are various reasons that have resulted in high prices. One is that catches from Spanish fishing grounds have decreased. This is the case in Galicia where there is a big demand for octopus. At least, according to María del Carmen Navas of the Cofradía de Pescadores in Caleta de Vélez, the same hasn't happened in Malaga where catches have remained the same. "With lower catches, the quantity on offer is reduced but the demand has stayed the same and even increased in some cases due to the growth experienced in other markets. This explains why , although we have caught about the same quantity, the prices have gone up to over ten euros a kilo," she explained.

According to Francisco Gutiérrez of Sanamar Alimentación, a frozen seafood wholesaler, the problem is that there isn't enough octopus to satisfy demand.

The catch from Malaga's fishing fleet is not enough on its own for the local population so much of what is consumed in the province comes from Galicia, Morocco, Mauritania and Portugal.

"Some also comes from South America and China but Moroccan octopus is better quality," explained Gutiérrez.

Things don't look as if they are going to improve soon either as the Malaga fleet licensed to catch octopus with pots and baskets is banned from catching them between 1 July and 30 September. The only boats allowed to fish for octopuses during these months are trawlers.

The high prices have also affected the catering trade where according to frozen food outlets, in some cases octopus is replaced with a species of squid, "once it's fried no one can tell the difference."