Posts Tagged market squid

Oct 15 2020

The Value of California’s Market Squid

Market Squid Reproducing. Photo credit: Mark Conlin Photography

Arriving on the heels of the farm to fork movement, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted supply chains and altered product demand, which has inspired businesses to restructure and Californians to pay particular attention to where their food comes from. Many understand that almonds, artichokes or lettuce are grown in their own backyard, mostly in the Central or Salinas Valleys. But when residents are asked about wild-caught food sources coming from the ocean, tuna, salmon or perhaps rockfish might immediately come to mind. While those are indeed popular fisheries, the largest of California’s commercial fisheries actually target invertebrates, not fish!

Invertebrates are animals without a backbone, such as the tidepool favorites, sea stars and anemones. But there are many more invertebrates around the world, both swimming and sedentary, that are highly sought after for food – and their popularity is on the rise. California’s largest marine commercial fisheries in terms of volume and value are market squid and Dungeness crab, with well over 100 million pounds landed and more than $30 million in revenue in a typical year for the squid fishery.

Market squid, the invertebrate known to diners as the popular dish calamari, use ocean currents, jet propulsion and prehistoric instincts to travel up and down the continental shelf of California. These slippery siblings of octopuses live very short lives (less than nine months) and produce heaps of eggs, somewhere on the order of 2,000 to 7,000 per female!

When conditions are right, squid show up in droves to reproduce in coastal waters. After reproducing for just a few short days, they die as a natural part of their life cycle. This means the entire population replaces itself in less than a year. These qualities lend to a high volume of squid available for fishermen, cost-effective management and a sustainable fishery. Squid are also used as bait to catch a wide variety of fish species and can be found at many coastal tackle shops or on live bait barges, mostly in Southern California.

Highest value marine fisheries, 2015-2019

If you see very bright lights from groups of boats on the water at night, it is likely the squid fishing fleet in action. Fishermen have used this technique for more than a century because squid are attracted to the lights, which mimic the moonlight. As described in an historic Fish Bulletin from 1965, the market squid fishery began in Monterey around 1863. The early fishing methods involved rowing a skiff with a lit torch at the bow to aggregate the squid. Then, two other skiffs would maneuver a large net around the school.

In today’s fishery, squid are typically caught using a purse seine, a large circular net which is “pursed” at the bottom to contain the school. Once the school of squid is brought closer to the vessel, a long tube is then used to suck the squid out of the net and onto the boat.

Only a limited number of vessels may fish for squid in California, and during the weekends (from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon) squid fishing is closed to allow for uninterrupted reproduction. In many fisheries, highly sophisticated mathematical models are used to estimate the available population for an upcoming season and ultimately to decide how many fish can be sustainably caught. Because market squid are short-lived, highly responsive to ever-changing environmental conditions and do not behave like most fish, traditional models are ineffective.

Squid fishing fleet near Monterey. CDFW photo by Carrie Wilson

For this reason, the fishery is monitored using the egg escapement method, which is essentially an estimate of how many eggs are released prior to female squid being caught. By comparing the average number of eggs that a female squid will produce to squid samples collected at the docks, biologists can calculate how many eggs were produced each year. This is used to look for trends or major shifts in how the squid fishing fleet is interacting with the stock. Biologists continue to explore ways to pair egg escapement information with population estimates, environmental variables, fishing behavior and economics.

Squid fishing fleet at night. CDFW photo by Carrie Wilson

Fishing for market squid is a long-standing tradition in California and normally provides for a large export market. But a number of recent factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, have inspired stronger local markets for many fisheries, such as squid. This means more restaurants, businesses and consumers are buying directly from the docks, shortening the distribution chain. Boat captains, crew, processors, distributors and diners eagerly await the arrival of squid, especially around spring and summer on the central California coast when fishing is generally the most successful. If history repeats itself, vessels will move to Southern California in the fall and winter, where the Channel Islands tend to be the hot spot for squid fishing. But in response to a changing climate, the range for this species is likely to expand northward, forcing the fishing industry and the biologists studying squid to adapt as well!


Media Contact:
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714.

Original post:

May 5 2020

Monterey Bay: Squid are back in abundance

Commercial fishing boats fish for squid off Lovers Point in Pacific Grove in 2018. ( Monterey Herald archive)

MONTEREY — Squid boats dotting the Central California coastline have been joined by salmon fishermen and women as both seasons are now underway. While the salmon fishery is just getting started up, the squid fishery is already showing signs of a promising season.

“I can tell you that the squid seems to be going really well,” said Moss Landing Harbormaster Tommy Razzeca, “we have a bunch of vessels working out of the harbor.”

The squid fishery is among the most lucrative and productive in the state, frequently valued in the double-digit millions. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, landings from California market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens) were over 34,000 short tons in the 2018-2019 season, generating more than $33 million in revenue.

But according to Diane Pleschner-Steele, the executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, these charming and elusive animals can be difficult to pin down. The statement has proven true in the last couple of years.

“We had a disastrous season last year,” Pleschner-Steele said, “they [the squid] took a hike.” Despite last year’s abundance in the Pacific Northwest, squid are sensitive to water temperature and California’s fishermen and women suffered the impact.

Katie O’Grady with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife says “the main factors driving squid availability to the fishery are likely prey abundance (krill and zooplankton) and water temperature,” but there are still many unknown factors that make the behaviors of these slippery sea-creatures hard to predict. Despite last year being a bad squid season, preliminary totals indicate more than $15 million in revenue came from the fishery.

According to NOAA’s Supervisory Research Fish Biologist John Field, the “most useful source of information on squid would usually come from our May-June midwater trawl survey…but we’ve not yet had that survey and in fact may not have it at all this year.” California SeaGrant reports that the squid catch generally decreases during El Niño years, but increases with cooler waters during La Niña, but numbers vary widely year to year.

“When the water is right, the squid will come here to the Monterey area,” according to Pleschner-Steel. Fortunately for calamari connoisseurs, “the water temperatures are colder, and that tends to encourage the productivity of squid.” Or rather, their reproductivity.

Spawning squid are targeted because they die shortly after they reproduce, and so fishing season — though technically open all year round — coincides with the spawning season. The catch is historically best in Southern California in fall and Central California in spring-summer.

Pete Guglielmo of Southern Cal Seafood says his five boats, split between Monterey Bay and Half Moon Bay, are doing well since they started up a few weeks ago.“It’s much better than the last two seasons, and it’s definitely on an increase,” he said. “It’s better and the size of the squid is bigger.”

Like any other business, there are a couple of new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic which the fishery needs to adjust to. “It’s a condition that it’s really hard to maintain social distancing on the boat,” said Pleschner-Steele.

To account for safety concerns during the CODID-19 pandemic, Guglielmo says the boats are keeping the crews onboard. It’s not uncommon to work long days for squid fishing   “They’re not coming ashore,” he said, while, “at the loading docks, all our workers are wearing masks and keeping their distance.” Truck drivers are also staying in their trucks so the squid gets loaded directly on and doors closed, limiting the number of people who come in contact with the seafood.

At the plant where fresh squid is packaged and frozen for shipping, the workers are also wearing gloves and masks, and Guglielmo says the nature of the way they package means they are already normally more than 6 feet apart. Then it gets shipped to Asia.

“There is still use for the product,” said Pleschner-Steele. “But a lot of our squid in the past — the volume has gone to China.”

Despite fewer ships making the international voyages between Asia and the western United States, there seems to still be enough demand for California market squid, thanks to those less successful prior seasons.

“There’s been a shortage for a couple of years so the buyers are there to buy, “ said Guglielmo, “It’s nice to have demand for our product right now.” Some of that squid makes its way back to the Monterey Bay area, though it can be exported all over the world.

According to Seafood Watch, California market squid caught with purse seines is a “Best Choice” seafood option because of its healthy stock and sustainable fishing practice. Purse seines are nets that hang vertically in the water, held open by weights and buoys. With the spawning squid congregated in large groups, instances of bycatch are few, and the entire population can replace itself every few months.

Even so, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife limits seasonal catch to 118,000 tonnes and requires weekend closures for periods of uninterrupted spawning. If the tonnage is met, the season comes to an end.

Until then, the boats in the water are a sign that Monterey is not ready to surrender its title as “Calamari Capital of the World” even when the world looks much different.

“We definitely understand the severity of COVID 19,” said Guglielmo. “We are making sure that we are working safely for our employees and the community.”

Original post:

Apr 4 2018

Market squid tell a tale of two krill

In good years, noisy fishing boats filled with freshly-netted market squid spill their slippery catch into processing plants on the California coast. During those years, market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens) are California’s most productive fishery, accounting for up to $70 million in revenue and 110,000 metric tons of squid. But in other years, calamari is hard to find. Cyclical changes in ocean conditions change the productivity of California waters, and as a result squid populations plummet and the fishing industry suffers.

Fishermen and researchers have known about this cycle for decades—the rise and fall of squid populations are clearly linked to El Niño cycles—but the cause is a complicated tale. This is according to Steven Litvin, an ecologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Litvin spent several years researching the ups and downs of market squid looking for trends that could help fishers and regulators better predict how squid populations might respond to natural and human-induced changes in the ocean.

Market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens) are one of California’s biggest fisheries, but their populations fluctuate drastically with changes in ocean climate conditions. Image: © 2001 MBARI

The story starts with juvenile market squid, a month or so after they hatch from their egg capsules. The young predators are only 15-70 millimeters long, “sort of similar in size and shape to a baby carrot,” said Litvin. As they grow to adult size, the juveniles rely in large part on two different species of krill as food.

Thysanoessa spinifera is one of two species of krill that market squid often feed on in California waters. Image: Steve Haddock

Krill are small crustaceans that live their lives filtering tiny algae, also known as phytoplankton, out of the water column. In places like California, where upwelling currents bring deep, cold, nutrient-rich water to the surface, the algae bloom and flourish, nourishing huge swarms of krill. But when ocean conditions vary, so do the phytoplankton.

In an El Niño year, the surface of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean warms, winds change, and upwelling slows along the usually productive California coast. These are less productive years in terms of the oceanic food web—less upwelling means less algae, which means fewer krill. Fewer krill mean that juvenile squid might have a tough time finding and collecting enough food.

Litvin and colleagues decided to pick apart one piece of this complex story—the feeding behavior of juvenile squid on two krill species. The krill vary both over time, with El Niño cycles and other changes in yearly productivity, and over space, up and down the California coast. One species of krill (Thysanoessa spinifera) gathers in larger numbers over the continental shelf near to shore, thrives in nutrient-rich waters, and is more frequently found in central and northern California. The other (Euphausia pacifica) is common farther away from shore in deeper water, and can be found anywhere along the California coast.

Most species of krill spend their nights feeding on algae near the sea surface and descend into dark, inaccessible waters during the day to avoid predators. But E. pacifica makes a much longer daily migration than T. spinifera, taking them deeper below the surface and making them more difficult prey for juvenile squid. In productive years, Litvin expected that squid would feed on plentiful krill from both species, but during unproductive years the squid might be forced to change their diets.

This graphic shows simplified food webs for market squid during productive years and unproductive years. The sizes of the circles indicate the relative populations of each type of animal. Image: Vicky Stein © 2018 MBARI

In partnership with the National Marine Fisheries Service Litvin and the team used samples from midwater trawl surveys to look at stable isotopes in juvenile squid tissue. By looking at specific kinds of carbon and nitrogen atoms in a squid’s body, the researchers hoped to learn where that individual’s food was coming from.

Researchers find a tangled web of isotope gradients in the oceans. Isotopes, “heavier” or “lighter” versions of atoms like carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, or oxygen, move differently through nutrient cycles and food webs. Nitrogen-15, for example, is found to increase in animals higher up the food web, accumulating as one animal consumes another.

If Litvin found that a squid had stable carbon and nitrogen values close to those of T. spinifera, the near-shore krill, it would suggest that the animal was feeding more heavily on this species. Squid with different isotope values could be feeding more heavily on offshore krill (E. pacifica) or other prey. Litvin noted that with so many different variables affecting isotopes (latitude, distance from land, water depth, and others), the specific numbers can be confusing. Researchers must make careful comparisons between sampling sites and years.

Litvin and colleagues examined juvenile squid tissue samples collected from many sites along the California coast in 2013 and 2015. While 2013 was an average year in terms of productivity, 2015 was a year of a strong El Niño event—an atypical year with variable upwelling, an unusual offshore warm water “blob,” and changes in food webs.

Over the whole California coast in 2013, squid isotope values in areas with lots of upwelling and productivity corresponded well with T. spinifera as a major food source for the juvenile squid, as expected. Litvin was then unsurprised to find that in 2015, isotope ratios indicated that juvenile squid in some of the same areas fed less on T. spinifera and more heavily on difficult-to-catch E. pacifica.

Southern California was a bit different. The squid populations in the south are less variable than the boom-and-bust cycles commonly seen in central California and, no matter the ocean conditions, those squid seem to rely on E. pacifica. While central California squid populations seemed to respond to relative abundances of T. spinifera and E. Pacifica, southern California populations might respond just based on the abundance or absence of E. pacifica. The variation between unproductive and normal years, said Litvin, could be “based on the same productivity, but with different drivers.”

Swarms of krill, such as this one, flourish in productive, phytoplankton-rich water. Image © 2003 MBARI

Litvin started this research before joining Jim Barry’s lab at MBARI. Now, Litvin hopes he and his fellow researchers will be able to discover even more of the interactions that tie together krill, squid, and environmental oscillation.

As El Niño cycles affect productivity off of the California coast, scientists and fishermen will be watching squid populations closely. And as climate change begins to shift patterns of upwelling and other ocean conditions, Litvin hopes that research on the interactions between currents, krill, and squid will help people predict what might happen to this lucrative and vital species.

According to Litvin, “it’s still a really evolving story.”

Originally posted: Article by Vicky Stein

Jul 28 2017

Oceanographic influences on the distribution and relative abundance of market squid paralarvae (Doryteuthis opalescens) off the Southern and Central California coast


Joel E. Van Noord | Emmanis Dorval


July 2017



Market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens) are ecologically and economically important to the California Current Ecosystem, but populations undergo dramatic fluctuations that greatly affect food web dynamics and fishing communities. These population fluctuations are broadly attributed to 5–7-years trends that can affect the oceanography across 1,000 km areas; however, monthly patterns over kilometer scales remain elusive. To investigate the population dynamics of market squid, we analysed the density and distribution of paralarvae in coastal waters from San Diego to Half Moon Bay, California, from 2011 to 2016. Warming local ocean conditions and a strong El Niño event drove a dramatic decline in relative paralarval abundance during the study period. Paralarval abundance was high during cool and productive La Niña conditions from 2011 to 2013, and extraordinarily low during warm and eutrophic El Niño conditions from 2015 to 2016 over the traditional spawning grounds in Southern and Central California. Market squid spawned earlier in the season and shifted northward during the transition from cool to warm ocean conditions. We used a general additive model to assess the variability in paralarval density and found that sea surface temperature (SST), zooplankton displacement volume, the log of surface chlorophyll-a, and spatial and temporal predictor variables explained >40% of the deviance (adjusted r2 of .29). Greatest paralarval densities were associated with cool SST, moderate zooplankton concentrations and low chlorophyll-a concentrations. In this paper we explore yearly and monthly trends in nearshore spawning for an economically important squid species and identify the major environmental influences that control their population variability.

— download the full paper —


Dec 4 2015

Could market squid become a new Southeast fishery?

Southeast Alaska marine scientists got a rare peek this year into the hatching of a certain species of squid.

“I’ve never seen it. In fact, I’ve never seen squid in Southeast and I’ve been here since 1976,” said Gordon Garcia. He works at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute in Auke Bay.

Market squid eggs were found this past summer in a salmon capture device at the NOAAs Little Port Walter field station. That’s located on the eastern shore of the southern tip of Baranof Island.

The squid are native to Southeast and are commercially harvested in California. But Garcia said this is the first time evidence of market squid spawning has been found at the research station, which has been there since the 1920s.

NOAA's Gordon Garcia shows one of the tanks that is being used to hatch and culture market squid in the wet lab at Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

NOAA’s Gordon Garcia shows one of the tanks that is being used to hatch and culture market squid in the wet lab at Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

“The squid actually spawned in the capture device and our staff there grabbed some of them,” Garcia said. The live squid died quickly, so he settled for eggs and began experimenting in July. I visited him in September.

Garcia is a facilities manager at the institute, but he studied marine zoology in college and spent 30 years at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He’s curious to know if the squid can be cultured.

In the tanks where the squid eggs are kept, Garcia points out what he calls “squidleys,” also known as hatchlings.

“We see this mass of squid hatching and they’re all attracted to the light,” Garcia said as we watched the squidleys dart around and swim.

This photo was called Squidnado because of the tornado-like formation of market squid hatchlings that swam toward the light. (Photo courtesy Gordon Garcia/NOAA)

Garcia calls this photo “Squidnado” because of the tornado-like formation of market squid hatchlings that swam toward the light. (Photo courtesy Gordon Garcia/NOAA)

The eggs are housed in what looks like a puffy, translucent white sea anemone. About 30 to 40 eggs are in each finger.

Garcia took an early photo of the first hatchlings that resembled an underwater tornado. He dubbed it “Squidnado” as an homage to recent cheesy sci-fi movies that mix weather phenomenon and marine life.

The experiment is conducted in eight tanks. One of the tanks has water piped in from Auke Bay, which stays around 49 degrees Fahrenheit. In another tank, the water is warmed to 61 degrees.

The eggs in the warmer tank hatched first but then died after about a week. Eggs in the cooler tank began to hatch about four weeks later.

Garcia said market squid typically live about a year and grow to 8 to 10 inches long.

“You could get those little calamari rings out of them. Yeah, dice them up,” he said, laughing.

At one point, there were clouds of squidleys in the lab’s tanks, Garcia said. As many as 7,000 hatched between late summer and early fall.

“They’re just popping out as we’re talking. You can see that cloud is getting denser and denser. If I were to go shake these egg masses, I’d probably triple the number of critters that you see there,” Garcia said.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them all. I hate to see them die, but that’s nature, of course. We’ll take the strongest and see if we can’t make them grow.”


Market squid

Market squid hatchling is photographed under extreme magnification. (Photo courtesy Gordon Garcia/NOAA)

Garcia spent three months experimenting with the size of the tank, the kind of gravel at the bottom, water flow and food sources. The tricky part was getting the squid to eat.

He tried salmon meal, rehydrated freeze-dried rotifers or a form of zooplankton and brine shrimp. Some of the cold water squid doubled in size after feeding on the brine shrimp, but the shrimp themselves did not thrive very well in the cold water.

Sadly, despite Garcia’s attempts to keep the squidleys alive, the experiment only lasted about three months. The last one died Oct. 6.

Watch the video on the original post:

Oct 21 2015

Plenty of anchovies in Monterey Bay, but maybe not elsewhere



Protectionist groups are basing their “crisis” mantra on a paper that chose to ignore the abundance of anchovy observed at nearshore survey sites in southern California in recent years.  In reality, fishermen report abundant anchovies in southern California as well as Monterey Bay.   Here is a comment from one fisherman:


“There has been major tonnage [of anchovy] in the Los Angeles / Long Beach harbor for quite some time — a year plus. Almost all of it has been very small pinhead. There has been pretty good volume of ‘chovy in front of Newport Beach for a couple of months. Little bit bigger than pinhead but not real big. In June, Catalina was loaded with small pinhead anchovy. Front and back of the island. Volume was many thousand ton. At the same time, we would see the anchovy in the channel daytime as well, a lot of it! “  
As the reporter quoted at the end of this story:  the allowable harvest limit for anchovy is very conservative.




Monterey Fish Company worker Geronimo Hernandez feeds anchovies from a chute into iced bins while unloading the El Dorado fishing boat at the Moss Landing Harbor on October 16, 2015. The boat is owned by Frank Aliotti Senior. (David Royal - Monterey Herald)

Monterey >> Things are shifting for fishermen in Monterey Bay.

Market squid are disappearing, and in their place, fishing boats are reeling in piles of anchovies.

But while they appear abundant, conservation groups warn that the forage fish may be at their lowest levels since the 1950s.

“It’s an anomalous year,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association. “Typically these are not the kind of oceanographic conditions that anchovy like. But they are here and they’re really close to shore, which is why we’re having a spectacular year for whale watching.”

Anchovies aren’t just bringing whales into the bay — they’re also attracting fishing fleets.

“There are thousands of tons,” said Sal Tringali, president of Monterey Fish Company, whose fishermen in Moss Landing are landing about 120 tons of anchovies each night and expect to do so for about another month. “There are all the anchovies you want out here.”

Tringali said the majority of his harvest never fills human bellies, as roughly 70 percent of the catch travels to Australia to feed tuna.

Records from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife show that, across the state, fishermen landed 13,508 metric tons of anchovies this year.

That number was fine in previous years, but now it’s dangerous, said Geoff Shester of conservation group Oceana.

“This level of catch is sustainable when the stock is healthy,” Shester said. “But new information shows that the stock is at such a low level right now, it’s literally in a state of collapse.”

Survey cruises conducted by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center detected little to no anchovy eggs from 2010 to 2013. The lack of eggs, coupled with a recent study still in review that suggests anchovy biomass has decreased by over 99 percent from 2005 to 2009, has Shester and his fellow conservationists concerned.

“Every ton we can keep in the water is extremely valuable for the future of anchovies and the amazing multimillion-dollar whale-watching and wildlife-viewing destination that is Monterey Bay,” Shester said.

Shester, along with representatives from four other conservation groups, recently sent a letter to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, which oversees fisheries from Washington to California, urging the council to reconsider its anchovy management strategy and conduct a new stock assessment. They argue that because the last anchovy assessment was taken in 1995, current management policy doesn’t apply to modern numbers.

Sit on the docks where anchovies are sorted and you’ll likely see lots of the silvery fish piling up. But it’s a mirage, warns William Sydeman, ecologist of the Farallon Institute, who coauthored the paper that estimated anchovies at low levels.

“People think that if they’re in Monterey Bay, they must be everywhere,” Sydeman said. “They’re not. They’re only in Monterey Bay.”

Sydeman said anchovies tend to aggregate near shore when their numbers are low, giving the appearance of abundance. When numbers are actually strong, he said, the fish expand offshore, disappearing from sight.

“People think, ‘Oh look at all these whales, there must be a ton of fish,’ and that’s probably true,” said Sydeman. “There is a local abundance of anchovies. But it’s local. That doesn’t mean global abundance.”

The National Marine Fisheries Service enforces a cap on anchovies. Josh Lindsay, policy analyst for the service, believes that number is conservative.

“To take a precautionary approach,” Lindsay said, “we took the overfishing limit and told the fishing fleet that they could only catch 25,000 metric tons. That’s a pretty large buffer built into our management.”

The Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet next month to review the latest findings on anchovy numbers.

Read the original post:

Aug 5 2014

Paul Greenberg misses the boat in his push for local California squid; fails to understand market


SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Opinion] by D.B. Pleschner  Aug 5, 2014

Recently author Paul Greenberg, now on a media tour promoting his latest book, wrote about California squid in the LA times – suggesting something was amiss when California exported its squid, and then re-imported it for local consumption.   But he never talked to the squid fishermen.  Now they want to set the record straight, with the ‘inconvenient truths’ about the California Squid fishery, which is one of the lowest impact fisheries on the planet.  D.B. Pleschner, head of the California Wetfish producers, responds.



In his op-ed to the Los Angeles Times last week, author Paul Greenberg could have dodged some critical misstatements and inaccuracies about the marketing of California squid – the state’s largest catch.
All he had to do was check with local sources, including the California Wetfish Producers Association, which represents the majority of squid processors and fishermen in the Golden State and promotes California squid.


Instead, Greenberg missed the boat on a number of issues, including the overall carbon footprint of seafood, but equally important, the reasons why most of the squid that California exports is consumed overseas!


To set the record straight, here are some inconvenient truths you wouldn’t know about squid by reading last week’s op-ed:


First, size matters and price rules when it comes to California market squid, which are one of the smallest of more than 300 squid species found worldwide. The U.S. “local” market really prefers larger, “meatier” squid, notwithstanding Greenberg’s ‘locavore’ movement.


Greenberg acknowledged the labor cost to produce cleaned squid in California adds at least $1.50 per pound to the end product. In fact, local production costs double the price of cleaned squid, due to both labor (at least  $15 per hour with benefits) and super-sized overhead costs, including workers’ comp, electricity, water and myriad other costs of doing business in the Golden State.


Del Mar Seafood is one processor in California that micro-processes cleaned squid at the request of markets like the CSA that Greenberg mentioned. In fact, virtually all California squid processors do the same thing at the request of their customers. But at 1,000 pounds per order, we would need 236,000 CSAs, restaurants or retail markets paying $1.50 more per pound to account for the total harvest.  If the demand were there, we’d be filling it!


Greenberg also misconstrued the issue of food miles. Respected researchers like Dr. Peter Tyedmers, from Dalhousie University in Canada, found that transport makes a minor contribution to overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, when considering the carbon footprint of seafood (or land-based foods). Mode of production is far more important.


Here’s another surprise:  California squid is one of the most efficient fisheries in the world – because a limited fleet harvests a lot of squid within a short distance of processing plants.


Studies show that the California wetfish fleet, including squid, can produce 2,000 pounds of protein for only 6 gallons of diesel. Squid are then flash frozen to preserve freshness and quality. Keep in mind that even with immaculate handling, fresh squid spoil in a few days.


As counterintuitive as it may seem, even with product block-frozen and ocean-shipped to Asia for processing, California’s squid fishery is one of the ‘greenest’ in the world. One recent survey estimated that about 30 percent of California squid is now either processed here or transshipped to Asia for processing (other Asian countries besides China now do the work) and re-imported.


China, although important, is only one export market that craves California squid. With a growing middle class billions strong, Chinese consumers can now afford California squid themselves. Many countries that import California squid prefer the smaller size, and California squid goes to Mediterranean countries as well.  In short, most of the squid that California’s fishery exports are consumed overseas.  Why? The U.S. palate for squid pales in comparison to Asian and European demand.


Also important to understand: California squid is the economic driver of California’s wetfish industry – which produces more than 80 percent of the total seafood volume landed in the Golden State. California squid exports also represent close to 70 percent by weight and 44 percent of value of all California seafood exports. Our squid fishery contributes heavily to the Golden State’s fishing economy and also helps to offset a growing seafood trade imbalance.


The sad reality is that price really does matter and most California restaurants and retail markets are not willing to pay double for the same – or similar – small squid that they can purchase for half the price.


Nonetheless, we do appreciate Greenberg’s pitch for local seafood. Our local industry would be delighted if, as he suggested, all Californians would be willing to pay $1.50 a pound more for California squid.  We may be biased, but in our opinion California squid really is the best!


D.B. Pleschner is Executive Director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, a nonprofit designed to promote sustainable wetfish resources.

Photo Credit: The Smelly Alley Fish Company

Apr 24 2014

Lowly squid tops king salmon as Monterey’s top cash fishery

More than 6 percent of California’s seafood haul comes from the Monterey area, a region with a deep history of commercial fishing. Last year, catches of the humble squid generated about twice as much cash as the kingly chinook salmon.

We’ve crunched the numbers to rank the top 10 commercial fisheries in the coastal fringes of Silicon Valley, which you can peruse below.


Bryce Druzin
Reporter- Silicon Valley Business Journal

View the original article here.

Aug 19 2013

California’s squid industry is booming

For years, the squid business in Morro Bay has been light weight, but this year, it’s heavy. Tons and tons of Market Squid are brought into the harbor every morning.

The abundance is because it’s spawning season. At this time of the year, Market Squid travel in massive schools to spawn and die.

The squid industry was volatile for a few years because the state did not want them to be over-fished, so regulations were put in place. Today, there is a limit on how many one boat can catch, and under new regulations, they cannot be fished on the weekends.

“This boat went out last night. They can get 40 tons in a couple hours,” said Giovanni DeGarimore.

The Ocean Angel threw nets just off the coast from Pismo Beach.

“They use these big nets. So they circle it and then they close it up at the bottom and scoop it all up,” he explained.

Once they’ve scooped tons and tons of squid, the boat heads back to Morro Bay to unload.

“We are unloading for Del Mar Seafoods. They are one of the larger producers of calamari in California,” said DeGarimore.

For Giovanni DeGarimore. the process is like a harvest. The tanks on the boat are connected to a suction tube that moves the squid onto a conveyer belt. The squid are then dumped into bins and iced.

Watch the story and read the article here.

California s squid industry is booming - KSBY

Jun 24 2013

How to prepare squid: How to clean, prepare and cook squid.


These are a few tips from our friends in the UK on how to clean, prepare and cook squid, note that the squid is a little larger than California squid, but the process is similar.
BBC Good Food
Points to remember:

  • Pull out the tentacles from the main body. Cut just below the eye and discard the innards. Discard the beak and then trim the long tentacles level with the rest.
  • Pinch the two fins together, thread thumb underneath and pull them away from the body, along with the membrane and discard.
  • Pull out the shell or ‘quill’ and then remove the innards using the back of a knife.
  • Cut the squid open, and scrape any more innards out and discard. Cut into slices, or score the squid and cut into pieces.
  • You can now cook the squid. Frying is a popular method – squid pieces just need to be cooked for 30-40 seconds on a very high heat. Serve immediately.

Read more tips and watch video here.