Ospina-Alvarez, A., de Juan, S., Pita, P. et al. (including Villasante, S.) (2022). Scientific Reports
The global trade in cephalopods is a multi-billion dollar business involving the fishing and production of more than ten commercially valuable species. It also contributes, in whole or in part, to the subsistence and economic livelihoods of thousands of coastal communities around the world. The importance of cephalopods as a major cultural, social, economic, and ecological resource has been widely recognised, but research efforts to describe the extent and scope of the global cephalopod trade are limited. So far, there are no specific regulatory and monitoring systems in place to analyse the traceability of the global trade in cephalopods at the international level. To understand who are the main global players in cephalopod seafood markets, this paper provides, for the first time, a global overview of the legal trade in cephalopods. Twenty years of records compiled in the UN COMTRADE database were analysed. The database contained 115,108 records for squid and cuttlefish and 71,659 records for octopus, including commodity flows between traders (territories or countries) weighted by monetary value (USD) and volume (kg). A theoretical network analysis was used to identify the emergent properties of this large trade network by analysing centrality measures that revealed key insights into the role of traders. The results illustrate that three countries (China, Spain, and Japan) led the majority of global market movements between 2000 and 2019. Based on volume and value, as well as the number of transactions, 11 groups of traders were identified. The leading cluster consisted of only eight traders, who dominated the cephalopod market in Asia (China, India, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam), Europe (the Netherlands, and Spain), and the USA. This paper identifies the countries and territories that acted as major importers or exporters, the best-connected traders, the hubs or accumulators, the modulators, the main flow routes, and the weak points of the global cephalopod trade network over the last 20 years. This knowledge of the network is crucial to move towards an environmentally sustainable, transparent, and food-secure global cephalopod trade.