The red octopus Octopus maya is an endemic species of the continental shelf of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico and supports the largest octopus fishery in the American continent. Little is, however, known about its spatial dynamics. The study of the space-time variation of catchability is a key element in the stock assessment, because it allows behavioral aspects of the resource and qualities of the various exploitation strategies to be clarified, which are essential for the fishery management. The objective was to analyze the spatio-temporal variations of the abundance and catchability of the octopus O. maya on the continental shelf of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. During the fishing season of 2012 (August–December), fishery landings from the small-scale fleet in 13 ports of the Yucatan Peninsula, were analyzed to obtain data on catch, effort and fishing zone for O. maya. During the closed season of 2013 (January–July) fishing hauls were performed across a network of stations along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Spatio-temporal variations in mean catch per unit effort (CPUE) in terms of number of organisms per hour of effective fishing were analyzed. Catchability and its variation with size, time, and zone were estimated through a model based on the Leslie transition matrix and frequency distributions of mantle length. The results showed significant changes in the distribution of O. maya. During the fishing season, the greatest abundances were found along the coast of Campeche (western zone), whereas, during the closed season the highest abundances were recorded along the coast of Yucatan (eastern zone). Trends of decreasing and increasing catchability were observed with respect to size according to the different zones. A high catchability was presented for small sizes along the coast of Campeche during the fishing season. The results indicate the need to investigate possible management measures differentiated by region (west-east) to ensure the fishery sustainability.
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Vol. 34 • No. 2