Posts Tagged squid

Dec 1 2016

In California, Squid Is Big Business. But Good Luck Eating Local Calamari

A squid salad in Los Angeles. In California, squid is an economic driver of the seafood industry. Bit most of this squid is frozen and exported overseas to China to be processed and distributed across the globe.

A squid salad in Los Angeles. In California, squid is an economic driver of the seafood industry. Bit most of this squid is frozen and exported overseas to China to be processed and distributed across the globe. (Rick Loomis/LA Times via Getty Images)



More than 80 percent of U.S. squid landings are exported — most of it to China. The rare percentage of that catch that stays domestically goes to Asian fresh fish markets or is used as bait.

Ironically, the lion’s share of the squid consumed in the United States is imported.

“Squid is a labor-intensive product,” says Emily Tripp, founder of Marine Science Today, a website on the latest ocean-based research. “It’s cheaper in some situations to ship it to China to be processed and ship it back.”

Tripp, who recently graduated with a masters from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, did her thesis project on California market squid, which, during non-El Niño years, is California’s most valuable fishery.

In California, squid is an economic driver of the seafood industry – it’s the fifth-largest fishery in the United States by weight. Yet most of this squid is frozen and exported overseas to China to be processed and distributed to over 42 countries across the globe. It’s an export market that, according to 2011 figures, is valued at $107 million. Only 1.4 percent of it, on average, makes it back to the U.S. In 2015, that figure was 0.46 percent.

“It has to do with the American desire for a larger squid,” explains Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association. “A lot of squid that is shipped overseas stays overseas because they prefer it. They eat it over there. Our consumers typically prefer a larger squid, and so there’s just a ton of squid imported into this country that comes in at a far lower price.”

In the U.S., the squid that ends up on our dinner table is typically Patagonian squid from the Falkland Islands or Humboldt squid — a jumbo cephalopod fished predominantly in Mexico and Peru.

California market squid isn’t usually desired because of its smaller size.

“Our squid is a learning curve,” Pleschner-Steele says. “If you overcook it, it can taste like a rubber band. But in my opinion, if you do it right, it tastes more like abalone than any other squid. It’s nutty, sweet and delicate.”

The cost of labor is another, perhaps more significant, factor. Squid cleaning and processing is an extremely time-consuming practice. The eyes, cartilage, skin and guts need to be removed ahead of time, and it’s cheaper to have this done overseas than domestically.

A round-trip freight cost to China is $0.10 per pound and labor is just $7 a day there. By contrast, California wages — with tax and health insurance — amount to $12 an hour, according to Pleschner-Steele.

Also, supply chains and markets are incredibly opaque. Pleschner-Steele suspects that as the Chinese middle-class economy has blossomed, a lot of the squid processing facilities are now based in Thailand.

Tripp says during her research, it was nearly impossible to track down where exactly the squid was being processed abroad.

“The biggest challenge was trying to find out where the squid goes when it leaves to the United States,” she says. “No one wants to say where they partner. It’s a bit of a challenge. In the United States we keep such good records of all of our fish and seafood. There’s no comparable system in China. I couldn’t follow the chain backwards.”

Regardless, the narrative is the same: Californians aren’t eating Californian squid. And if they are, it likely wasn’t processed in California.

At Mitch’s Seafood, a restaurant in San Diego committed to local fish, the owners spent three years looking for a California-based squid processor for their calamari. They eventually found a company in San Pedro called Tri-Marine.

“We have to pay twice as much for it, but it’s worth it so that we can say we offer California-caught and processed squid,” owner Mitch Conniff says. “Squid that’s caught two to three miles away takes a 10,000-mile round-trip journey before I can get it back into my restaurant.”

All Californian fish processors are capable of dealing with squid, Pleschner-Steele says. However, it’s not a money-making operation because people aren’t willing to pay for it.

“It has to be on request,” she says. “We simply can’t compete with the cost of other imported squid. ”

Supporting the local squid industry is much more than just helping the local economy – it’s helpful from a sustainability angle as well.

Even with squid being sent on a round-trip journey across the world, the California market squid fishery has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the industry.

“California squid fishing fleets are one of the most energy efficient in the world because [they’re] so close to port,” Pleschner-Steele says. “Our boats can produce a ton of proteins for about six gallons of diesel fuel. … Efficiency is key.”

Further efficiency, she says, could be achieved if consumers would be keen to fork over $1.50 a pound more for California-caught and processed squid.

But the “truth is that Americans aren’t willing to pay for it,” she says. “If people were willing to pay the price, we can definitely feed the demand.”


Clarissa Wei is a freelance journalist based in Los Angeles and Taipei. She writes about sustainability and food.

Copyright 2016 NPR.

May 27 2016

Spiny lobster and squid lead California’s fishing economy, says new report

fishing

While California’s seafood sales overwhelmingly relied on imported animals, commercial fisheries landed nearly 360 million pounds of fin- and shellfish in 2014, according to a federal report released Thursday with the most recent figures on the nation’s fishing economy.

The state’s seafood industry, including imports, generated a whopping $23 billion — more than 10 percent of the nation’s $214 billion total sales in 2014 from commercial harvest, seafood processors and dealers, wholesalers and distributors, and importers and retailers.

As such, most of California’s nearly 144,000 industry jobs came from the import and retail sectors, according to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service Fisheries Economics of the U.S. 2014 report. Nationally, 1.83 million jobs are supported by the fishing industry.

California shellfish were the most lucrative product in the state’s home-grown seafood market, with crabs and spiny lobsters native to Southern California getting the most money per pound of all the species fished, at $3.37 and $19.16 per pound, respectively.

But market squid were overwhelmingly the most commonly landed species, with 227 million pounds caught. Squid only returned an average of 32 cents a pound, however. Commercially fished in San Pedro, among other landings, squid are in high demand in foreign markets.

California commercial anglers sold 20.8 million pounds of crab, 17 million pounds of Pacific sardine for 12 cents a pound, and 11.8 million pounds of sea urchin at 77 cents per pound, the report states.

“In California, shellfish have always been more important, at least in terms of value,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association. “This includes squid and Dungeness crab — usually the top two fisheries in value, and spiny lobster, which was an $18 million fishery in 2015.”

California fishers relied heavily on healthy market squid stocks in 2014 but, as El Niño weather conditions entered the following year, squid landings dropped significantly, Pleschner-Steele said.

“We’re now just starting to see squid landings, but at low volumes,” she said.

The lack of squid availability and fishing restrictions on Pacific sardine, which were the third-most commonly caught species in 2014, have been a challenge for fishers who argue there are plenty of sardines in the waters but they aren’t allowed to catch them because of state-imposed restrictions.

Mike Conroy, president of West Coast Fisheries Consultants, said anglers have had an increasingly hard time since 2014 trying to keep their fishing fleets afloat.

“I am sure the number of jobs have been dropping, but that is attributable to the closure of the sardine fishery, a slow squid year, increased regulation and automatic processing,” Conroy said. “Hopefully, with the departure of El Niño and arrival of La Niña, if it materializes, we should see more squid this season.”

The most controversial Southern California fishing operation, however, is the drift gill net fishery for swordfish and thresher sharks. Environmentalists have been fighting to close it for decades because the nets historically have captured large amounts of bycatch, harming and killing unintended species — including turtles and marine mammals. Technological innovations such as acoustic pingers have reduced the problem, but there is state legislation and an active campaign seeking to ban drift gill nets altogether.

“The (drift gill net) fishery is still hanging on,” Pleschner-Steele said. “But it’s much smaller now. Only a dozen or so fishermen have persevered.”

Nearly 2 million pounds of California swordfish were landed in 2014, earning a high return of $2.45 a pound, the National Marine Fisheries report found.

The least lucrative fish in California in 2014 was the Pacific whiting, or hake, which can be found all along the coast. It earned just 9 cents a pound, according to the NOAA report. Among common fin-fish species, salmon was the state’s most lucrative, garnering $4.74 a pound, followed by sablefish and rockfish, at $2.26 and $1.57 a pound, respectively, in 2014.


Read the original post: http://www.dailybreeze.com/

Mar 7 2016

S. California Fisheries Hit Hard By Warming Water

Squid have pretty much disappeared from Southern California in the last several months.

“Squid’s kind of our bread and butter. That’s what a lot of us make our payments and survive on,” said Corbin Hanson who fishes off the coast of Southern California.

”It’s extremely frustrating. It’s demoralizing to go out and not be able to catch anything,” Hanson said.

Hanson has not caught any squid for more than four months. Squid is one of California’s largest commercial fisheries, and much of it is exported to countries in Asia and the Mediterranean.

Oceanographer Andrew Leising with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries said unusually warm water is causing squid and other fish to move farther north. At a meeting at the Aquarium of the Pacific, scientists explained one cause of the warming waters is what they call “the blob.”

“During the, say, 30-year record, this event “the blob” stands out far beyond anything we’ve seen in that 30 years. And in terms of that total warmth of the water, it’s pretty much the warmest we’ve ever measured and over an extremely large volume of water,” Leising said.

At its warmest, “the blob” is 4 degrees Celsius above normal temperatures. While “the blob” warms the water’s surface layers, another weather phenomenon called “El Niño” is warming the deeper waters.

“We’re looking at a situation where we have two years of the blob warming the water. Now we’re going into El Niño warming the water, so we really have about three years solid of kind of these warm conditions that have been affecting the fisheries,” Leising said.

Oceanographers said while “the blob” is mostly gone, they don’t know if it will return. The National Weather Service’s Mark Jackson said there is a promising forecast for warm waters caused by El Niño.

“Those waters will cool through the summer, and it looks right now a very distinct possibility that we could be in a La Niña situation next winter,” Jackson added. “That’s where the waters in the eastern and central Pacific will actually cool below normal.”

Cooler waters next winter also mean good news for Corbin Hanson and his crew, but until then, they have to be frugal.

“There’s hardly anything spent on new equipment, new gear. We’re trying to get by and stop the bleeding this year,” he said.

Scientists said if there is a La Niña next winter, squid and other fish should return to Southern California.


Read the original post: http://www.voanews.com/

Jun 15 2015

Kin Khao’s Recipe for Charred Squid in a Chili-Garlic Sauce

Pan-sear tender squid, douse it in a seriously spicy sauce and scatter it with peanuts and cilantro for a simple, striking summer meal. This recipe from Kin Khao in San Francisco offers an accessible intro to authentic Thai cooking

squidHERBAL REMEDY | A scattering of cilantro provides a refreshing counterpoint to the bold spice and pungency of the sauce. Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Heather Meldrom, Prop Styling by Nidia Cueva

AT 31 YEARS OLD, Mike Gaines had mastered classical French and Japanese as well as New California cooking. But when he signed on to help open Kin Khao, a casual Thai eatery in downtown San Francisco, in a sense he was starting all over again. The restaurant’s owner, Pim Techamuanvivit, wasn’t worried: “I knew Mike was an excellent chef,” she said of her plan to introduce him to dishes she’d eaten all her life. “For me,” Mr. Gaines added, “the most difficult part was finding the balance Pim was looking for. When you are dealing with such bold flavors, you have to retrain your palate.”

This recipe for pan-seared squid doused in a bracing vinaigrette and topped with toasted peanuts and fresh cilantro—the pair’s second Slow Food Fast contribution—provides a crash course in authentic Thai cooking. “I insisted that it be kick-you-in-the-face spicy,” Ms. Techamuanvivit said.

The sauce, made with fresh chilies, fish sauce, garlic, lime juice and palm sugar, is known as nam jim talay. “It should be sour, spicy, garlicky and sweet,” said Ms. Techamuanvivit. “Thai cooks use sugar to round things out. If the first thing you taste is sweet, then the sauce is wrong.” She added that though the seafood used in this dish may change according to the season, the toppings never do: “The peanut and cilantro are not just garnishes. They are integral to the dish.”

Both Mr. Gaines and Ms. Techamuanvivit lament the way Thai cooking has been dumbed down in this country. From their modest yet ambitious kitchen, they are working to raise the bar with punchy, fresh and textured dishes like this one. Mr. Gaines compared their efforts to what chefs did a couple of decades ago to increase awareness about regional Italian cooking versus the Americanized pasta and pizza that had become ubiquitous. He was firm on this point: “Thai food is much more nuanced than we think.”

Charred Squid in a Chili-Garlic Sauce

Total Time: 20 minutes Serves: 4

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1½ bird’s eye or other hot chilies, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons palm sugar or light brown sugar
Juice of 1½ limes
5 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons bran or olive oil
2 pounds whole squid, cleaned
1 cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup toasted and finely chopped peanuts
Cooked sticky or white rice, for serving

1. Use a mortar and pestle or a food processor to crush garlic, chilies and sugar to a coarse paste. Transfer to a small bowl, then stir in lime juice and fish sauce. Set aside.

2. Heat half the oil in a cast-iron or other large, heavy pan over high heat. Once oil is shimmeringhot, sear half the squid, turning frequently, until surface browns on all sides and squid just cooks through, about 3 minutes total. Repeat with remaining oil and squid.

3. Transfer squid to a serving plate and spoon sauce over top. Sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts. Serve with sticky or white rice.


Read original post: www.wsj.com

May 9 2015

Embracing Squid in Its Many Forms

13KITCHEN1-master675Evan Sung for The New York Times

It’s funny that people who are normally squeamish about eating oddball food have no problem with squid.

Maybe it’s because most people encounter squid as fried calamari, which are often deep-fried rings with no discernible ocean flavor. This generic crisp and salty bar snack served with marinara sauce has mass appeal for young and old, even small children. But if they were told that calamari are actually bizarre-looking cephalopods with tentacles, and not somehow related to chicken nuggets, most kids wouldn’t touch them.

A platter of fried calamari does make a good introduction to squid, though, and can be quite wonderful when it’s well prepared. A good Italian restaurant is the best place to have them, maybe as part of a fritto misto. Many Thai restaurants offer excellent renditions sparked with hot pepper, mint and basil. In Spain, at streetside stands, you can buy a paper cone filled with freshly fried tiny squid called chipirones. They’ll make you swoon.

There are countless other ways to enjoy squid. Try them whole, seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast them uncovered in a hot oven for 10 minutes or so, or throw them on the grill. With a dab of aioli or salsa verde — divine.

13KITCHEN3-articleLargeEvan Sung for The New York Times

Braised long-cooked squid is also delectable. Simmering in tomato sauce until tender, or in a hearty red wine sauce, a common method used in many parts of Europe, is a way of treating squid a bit more like meat than fish. And squid stewed “in its own ink” shows up in arroz negro, a kind of black paella, or in pasta nero, garlicky spaghetti in a rich black sauce.

Sicilian cooks often make calamari ripieni, filling the whole squid’s cavity with a savory bread-crumb stuffing. For this recipe, I add typical Sicilian ingredients like chard, fennel, anchovy, pecorino and pine nuts for an especially herby effect. The wild fennel fronds that grow prolifically on Sicilian soil are not available where I live, so I use a combination of fronds from cultivated fennel and crushed fennel seeds. Cooks in Northern California can forage for it, though.

13KITCHEN2-articleLargeEvan Sung for The New York Times

Some use toothpicks to keep the stuffing in, but I don’t mind if some falls out while the calamari are roasting.

Be sure to purchase the tentacles as well as the tubes (some fishmongers sell them separately). They are delicious when roasted alongside the stuffed calamari and great fun to eat.


Read the original post: www.nytimes.com

Apr 15 2015

Can squid help make soldiers invisible?

squid

Click to view video(s) — http://www.cnn.com

Atlanta (CNN) — One of the world’s oldest organism groups, cephalopods, like squid, octopus and cuttlefish, have survived in Earth’s oceans for millions of years.

They key to their survival: mastering the art of camouflage.

Now, scientists say, these ancient invertebrates may hold the key to developing a combat technology that will allow soldiers to avoid infrared detection.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine say they have discovered a way to use proteins in the cells of pencil squid to develop “invisibility stickers” that can be worn by ground troops.

“Soldiers wear uniforms with the familiar green and brown camouflage patterns to blend into foliage during the day, but under low light and at night, they’re still vulnerable to infrared detection,” said Alon Gorodetsky, assistant professor of chemical engineering and material sciences.

“You can draw inspiration from natural systems that have been perfected over millions of years, giving us ideas we might never have been able to come up with otherwise,” he said.

Gorodetsky and his team have focused on specialized squid cells known as iridocytes, which contain a unique light-reflecting protein called reflectin. They were able to engineer E. coli bacteria to synthesize reflectin and coat the protein onto a packing tape-like surface to create the “invisibility stickers.”

Researchers say these reflectin-coated stickers can be changed into virtually any color with a chemical or mechanical stimulus.

“There is a lot of flexibility in how one can deploy this material, essentially, by taking the stickers and putting them all over yourself, you could look one way under optical visualization and another way under active infrared visualization,” Gorodetsky said.

The lab technology is not ready to be used in combat zones as researchers work to develop an adaptive camouflage system, in which multiple stickers are able to work in sync and respond to varying infrared wavelengths.

“We’ve developed stickers for use as a thin, flexible layer of camo with the potential to take on a pattern that will better match the soldiers’ infrared reflectance to their background and hide them from active infrared visualization,” Gorodetsky said.

The researchers’ work was recently presented at the 2015 American Chemical Society national meeting.


Read original story: http://www.cnn.com

Jan 26 2015

Stanford Researchers Strap ‘Crittercam’ Onto Squid

Stanford Researchers Strap ‘Crittercam’ Onto Squid, Discover How They Speak, Hide Themselves

squid_camera_012315Camera strapped onto a Humboldt squid. (Stanford University)

 

STANFORD (CBS SF) – Researchers at Stanford University strapped cameras on squid off the coast of Mexico and found the sea creatures likely use visual patterns to communicate and to hide themselves from predators, according to a study released this week.

Their study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, found Humboldt squid rapidly change their body colors from red to white to red again, in what researchers called “flashing.” They believe the behavior could be a way the squid speak with each other.

“The frequency and phase relationships [synchronization] between squid during flashing can be changed and this suggests that there is some information being conveyed that makes minute control over these details important to the squid,” Stanford researcher Hannah Rosen told the journal.

The researchers made their findings with the help of so-called “Crittercams” from National Geographic that were strapped onto the squid using Lycra-like “sweaters.”

Another behavior found by researchers is called “flickering,” where the squid produce waves of red and white across their bodies, likely to camouflage themselves from predators near the surface. They also observed what could be mating behavior of the squid.

Researchers plan to outfit more squid with cameras.


View original post here.

Dec 9 2014

Northern California lands large share of state’s robust market squid catch

 Seafood News

Published with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM

[Monterey Herald] By James Urton – December 8, 2014 –

The squid fishery in California remains robust, and this year’s catch has been unusually strong in Monterey Bay. In a typical season only about 20 percent of market squid are caught off Northern California. But this squid season — which runs from April to March — more than half of the state’s catch have come from north and central coast waters.

“We really had quite a banner year,” said Monterey harbormaster Stephen Scheiblauer.

By initial estimates, at least 75 percent of the Northern California squid catch came from waters in and around Monterey Bay. Scientists and squid fishermen do not fully understand the reason for this flip.

“For Monterey, it was amazing,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association.

There have been other seasons where Northern California outshone Southern California in squid hauls. But, since 1980, all of those years have preceded or fallen during El Nino climate shifts, which bring warm water to the California coast, starting with Southern California and moving north. It’s believed squid follow the cooler water.

“These squid really respond to ocean conditions,” said Pleschner-Steele.

The state is not currently in an El Nino pattern. But, it is possible that recent El Nino-like shifts in ocean conditions drove market squid farther north.

“The last couple of years, especially in Northern California, have been good for squid,” said Neil Guglielmo, captain of the 70-foot fishing vessel Triumphal.

Since squid season began April 1, commercial boats have hauled nearly 60,000 tons of market squid through Northern California ports, with a dock value of approximately $38.3 million. This is the largest squid season north of Point Conception in history and more than double the previous record set in the 2002-03 season. This year, Eureka reported its first squid landings.

“We fished squid this year where we never fished before,” said Guglielmo.

For much of this season, Guglielmo took the Triumphal from its home port near Ventura up the coast to Monterey and points farther north to haul in squid. He reported squid as far north as Crescent City.

“We just followed them up there,” said Guglielmo. “There was so much squid.”

This season was also a record for Monterey Bay, with an estimated 45,000 tons of squid caught in its waters, according to marine biologist Briana Brady with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

These record hauls also bring welcome economic benefits to ports. The local squid industry supports approximately 1,500 seasonal and full-time jobs, according to Scheiblauer. Ten squid fishing boats are based in Moss Landing and Monterey. In addition to landing fees at wharfs and the dock value of catches, the squid season brings economic benefits in the form of room and board for crew, fuel for boats, ice, cold storage facilities, transportation and processing for each boat’s catch. The Monterey area includes three resident buyers for squid.

“They’re still a big part of our culture and economy,” Scheiblauer said.

Ample food supplies and undisturbed spawning grounds help sustain market squid along the California coast. But, based on past squid fishing seasons, their numbers can still fluctuate along 10- to 15-year cycles, according to Brady.

Market squid are relatively small, often measuring about a foot in length, and prefer to eat small invertebrates, plankton or each other. Their short six- to 10-month lifespan makes it difficult for biologists to estimate the size of the entire market squid population off California to manage the fishery sustainably.

Instead, beginning in the last decade, regulators crafted a squid fishery management policy around a handful of core regulations. No more than 118,000 tons of squid can be harvested in California waters during the annual season. This limit was based off annual squid harvests in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“We’re happy with that maximum cap,” said Pleschner-Steele. “It’s a good, conservative number.”

The state also uses a limited-entry permit system for squid fishing to control the number of fishing boats in California waters. In addition, marine-protected areas in Southern California and Monterey Bay keep approximately one-third of squid spawning grounds along the coast off limits to fishing. Finally, no commercial vessel may fish for squid between noon Friday and noon Sunday. This weekly moratorium gives squid in non-protected areas opportunities to spawn, according to Scheiblauer.

As of Nov. 20, the statewide catch for market squid is nearly 115,000 tons. Since the maximum squid harvest cannot exceed 118,000 tons, this season is drawing to an early close. Under a voluntary co-management agreement between the squid fishing industry and Fish and Wildlife, larger fishing vessels ceased harvesting squid last month so smaller boats can “mop up” the remaining allotment of squid.

Based on reports from squid fishermen, this year there will still be plenty of squid left behind. But, in the wake of this season’s unusual squid bounty for Northern California, no one is willing to predict what might be in store for next year. In two previous El Nino cycles, desolate squid harvests in Northern California followed one or two years of largesse.

“You could have a boom year like this year and next year there’ll be nothing,” said Scheiblauer.

But, even after those turbulent oscillations, the squid fishery stabilized around a sustainable mean. That long-term trend gives others cause for cautious optimism.

“If the water doesn’t go crazy,” said Guglielmo, “I think we’ll be fine.”


Subscribe and read the original article at SEAFOODNEWS.COM

Dec 8 2014

Squid harvest has been bountiful in Monterey Bay

logo-extra-large

Fans of calamari have much to be thankful for this holiday season.

The squid fishery in California remains robust, and this year’s catch has been unusually strong in Monterey Bay. In a typical season only about 20 percent of market squid are caught off Northern California. But this squid season – which runs from April to March – more than half of the state’s catch have come from north and central coast waters.

“We really had quite a banner year,” said Monterey harbormaster Stephen Scheiblauer.

By initial estimates, at least 75 percent of the northern California squid catch came from waters in and around Monterey Bay. Scientists and squid fishermen do not fully understand the reason for this flip.

“For Monterey, it was amazing,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association.

There have been other seasons where northern California outshone southern California in squid hauls. But, since 1980, all of those years have preceded or fallen during El Nino climate shifts, which bring warm water to the California coast, starting with southern California and moving north. It’s believed squid follow the cooler water.

“These squid really respond to ocean conditions,” said Pleschner-Steele.

The state is not currently in an El Nino pattern. But, it is possible that recent El Nino-like shifts in ocean conditions drove market squid further north.

“The last couple of years, especially in northern California, have been good for squid,” said Neil Guglielmo, captain of the 70-foot fishing vessel Triumphal.

Since squid season began April 1, commercial boats have hauled nearly 60,000 tons of market squid through northern California ports, with a dock value of approximately $38.3 million. This is the largest squid season north of Point Conception in history and more than double the previous record set in the 2002-2003 season. This year, Eureka reported its first squid landings.

“We fished squid this year where we never fished before,” said Guglielmo.

For much of this season, Guglielmo took the Triumphal from its home port near Ventura up the coast to Monterey and points further north to haul in squid. He reported squid as far north as Crescent City.

“We just followed them up there,” said Guglielmo. “There was so much squid.”

This season was also a record for Monterey Bay, with an estimated 45,000 tons of squid caught in its waters, according to marine biologist Briana Brady with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

These record hauls also bring welcome economic benefits to ports. The local squid industry supports approximately 1,500 seasonal and full-time jobs, according to Scheiblauer. Ten squid fishing boats are based in Moss Landing and Monterey. In addition to landing fees at wharfs and the dock value of catches, the squid season brings economic benefits in the form of room and board for crew, fuel for boats, ice, cold storage facilities, transportation and processing for each boat’s catch. The Monterey area includes three resident buyers for squid.

“They’re still a big part of our culture and economy,” Scheiblauer said.

Ample food supplies and undisturbed spawning grounds help sustain market squid along the California coast. But, based on past squid fishing seasons, their numbers can still fluctuate along 10-15 year cycles, according to Brady.

Market squid are relatively small, often measuring about a foot in length, and prefer to eat small invertebrates, plankton or each other. Their short 6-10 month lifespan makes it difficult for biologists to estimate the size of the entire market squid population off of California to manage the fishery sustainably.

Instead, beginning in the last decade, regulators crafted a squid fishery management policy around a handful of core regulations. No more than 118,000 tons of squid can be harvested in California waters during the annual season. This limit was based off of annual squid harvests in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“We’re happy with that maximum cap,” said Pleschner-Steele. “It’s a good, conservative number.”

The state also uses a limited-entry permit system for squid fishing to control the number of fishing boats in California waters. In addition, marine protected areas in southern California and Monterey Bay keep approximately one-third of squid spawning grounds along the coast off limits to fishing. Finally, no commercial vessel may fish for squid between noon Friday and noon Sunday. This weekly moratorium gives squid in non-protected areas opportunities to spawn, according to Scheiblauer.

As of Nov. 20, the statewide catch for market squid is nearly 115,000 tons. Since the maximum squid harvest cannot exceed 118,000 tons, this season is drawing to an early close. Under a voluntary co-management agreement between the squid fishing industry and Fish and Wildlife, larger fishing vessels ceased harvesting squid last month so smaller boats can “mop up” the remaining allotment of squid.

Based on reports from squid fishermen, this year there will still be plenty of squid left behind. But, in the wake of this season’s unusual squid bounty for northern California, no one is willing to predict what might be in store for next year. In two previous El Nino cycles, desolate squid harvests in northern California followed one or two years of largesse.

“You could have a boom year like this year and next year there’ll be nothing,” said Scheiblauer.

But, even after those turbulent oscillations, the squid fishery stabilized around a sustainable mean. That long-term trend gives others cause for cautious optimism.

“If the water doesn’t go crazy,” said Guglielmo, “I think we’ll be fine.”

James Urton can be reached at 726-4453.


Read original article here.

Oct 25 2014

$quid Inc. 2014 — Video by Jason Crosby

squidVideo by Jason Crosby (YouTube).

Squid fishing in Monterey Ca. Lots of boats, lots of squid.