Maritime Police in Tavira seized 237 kilos of octopus last week after an anonymous tip-off that local fishermen had been catching and selling specimens under the legal size.
Upon inspection at the Tavira and Santa Luzia ports, officers found that 83.5 kilos of the catch was under-sized and therefore had been illegally fished.
A portion of the impounded catch has since been donated to the Tavira Red Cross charity and the Santa Luzia Community Centre, and the remaining amount was publicly auctioned on Monday.
This latest incident follows a warning from the Octopus Fishing Association of the Algarve (Associação dos Armadores da Pesca do Polvo do Algarve) in August who expressed concerns about the future livelihoods of fishermen who rely on octopus fishing to earn a living.
New regulations, introduced in the Algarve on August 3, prohibit the use of crab as bait and because of this, many fishermen claim that the activity of catching octopus in the south of Portugal to earn a living may well collapse.
Although sardine and mackerel are still allowed as bait, the association says that they are expensive to buy and a dramatic reduction in the number of octopus caught off the Algarve coast will be the consequence of the new law which applies just to the Algarve coastal region.
They claim that the new legislation poses great difficulties for local fishermen who, often unknowingly, bring undersized octopus ashore, and presents them with a grave challenge to catch those of the permitted size.
Meanwhile, octopus is expected to become even scarcer in the region’s fishmongers and markets as a repercussion of the increasing price per kilo, making it an unaffordable food for many.