Posts Tagged market squid

Jul 13 2012

California Still Leaving Plenty of Fish in the Sea



 Letters to the Editor

Re “Fisherman agree: Big fish need little fish” (Viewpoints, June 22):

The article omitted key facts the public should understand about California’s fisheries. Appealing to the Pacific Fishery Management Council to “forestall the harvest of forage species that aren’t currently being fished,” the authors cited a Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force study finding that worldwide, forage fish are mostly ground into meal to feed livestock and farmed fish. This is untrue in California. They didn’t point out that according to the same report, we already leave plenty of forage fish in the sea. West Coast forage fisheries harvest only 2 percent of the total forage pool, leaving 98 percent in the ocean. The most important forage species on the West Coast are already well managed. The PFMC recently approved deliberative action, allowing more time for scientific analysis and the development of the most practical, effective management tools. This is a win for all, providing the most cost-effective and timely response to concerns that new fisheries might over-exploit forage species.


— Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director, California Wetfish Producers Association

Read more via the Sacramento Bee.
May 8 2012

How to Eat Sardines Sustainably

Please note that the quote below by Geoff Shester incorrectly states that most of California Pacific Sardines go to tuna farms. In actuality, most CA sardines are exported for canning for human consumption. It should also be noted that the Lenfest Report identified CA’s forage fisheries to be one of the most precautionary, sustainable forage fisheries in the world. California limits harvesting to only allow 2% of the total forage pool, leaving 98% in the ocean for other marine life

Written by Miriam Goldstein

Sardines school off Baja California. Photo by Jon Bertsch.

I only eat anchovies with Caesar salad, and am rather fond of the tiny fish that add a bit of strong flavor to the romaine lettuce. I’m unusual for wanting to get even that close to the tiny, oily fish – sardines, anchovy, menhaden –  that used to be a staple of regular American food. That’s why Julia Whitty’s recent article in Mother Jones in which she encourages consumers to pause before they “ take a bite of that sardine sandwich” was so surprising. You won’t find sardines anywhere on the list of the top 10 consumed seafoods – or do you? Here’s why eating more sardines directly would actually be good for the ocean:

1) The United States Pacific sardine fishery is not overfished. This may be surprising to people who are familiar with the famous collapse of the Monterey (central California) sardine fishery, which was described by John Steinbeck in his book Cannery Row. Puzzlement over this collapse launched one of the most important long-term oceanographic investigations of all time, the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigation, which continues to provide critical scientific information to this day. Over 50 years of investigation has shown that this crash actually WASN’T caused by overfishing – at least not directly.

Sardine and anchovy populations are actually  tied directly to large-scale climatic conditions – if they’re favorable, there’s lots of fish. If they’re unfavorable, the fish crash. Overfishing may have exacerbate the crash and slowed recovery, but it probably didn’t cause it directly. Some researchers are predicting a similar sardine crash this year due to unfavorable climatic conditions similar to those seen before the late 1940s crash, and are encouraging managers to decrease sardine quotes in order to speed post-crash recovery. (Though this is controversial – see this response).

Historically, sardine & anchovy fisheries in other parts of the world, such as the South American anchoveta fishery (the biggest fishery in the world) are less well regulated. Overfishing in these ecosystems leads to no room for error – if there is the slightest change in the climate that causes the  fish to reproduce less fast, the fishery crashes. Buy U.S. Pacific sardines.

2)   Americans should eat more sardines directly, and fewer sardines indirectly. Only about a quarter of the enormous U.S. sardine haul is eaten directly  – the rest are sold as bait or as fishmeal. All of the three most popular U.S. seafoods – shrimp, salmon, and canned tuna – are farmed with fishmeal or caught with bait. This is why Jennifer Jacquet developed her “Eat Like A Pig” campaign. Grist covered this issue in response to Whitty’s article as well:

Geoff Shester, the California program director at Oceana, talked to Grist contributor Clare Leschin-Hoar for the article, “Small fish, big ocean: Saving Pacific forage fish.” We followed up with him to ask his take on sardine-eating. In the case of Pacific sardines, he said that “the lion’s share go to bluefin tuna farms (ranches) in Australia, then to commercial longline bait in international tuna fisheries.” Overall, he says, “consumers are demanding the wrong things. Instead of demanding farmed salmon, which uses at least three pounds of forage fish to get one pound of salmon, people should be demanding the forage fish themselves.”

Also, sardines are healthy! They appear on the New York Times list of the  11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating. Also, food writer Michael Pollan’s Rule 32 (Don’t overlook the oily little fishes”) elaborates further:

Wild fish are among the healthiest things you can eat, yet many wild fish stocks are on the verge of collapse because of overfishing. Avoid big fish at the top of the marine food chain–tuna, swordfish, shark–because they’re endangered, and because they often contain high levels of mercury. Fortunately, a few of the most nutritious wild fish species, including mackerel, sardines, and anchovies, are well managed, and in some cases are even abundant. Those oily little fish are particularly good choices. According to a Dutch proverb: “A land with lots of herring can get along with few doctors.”

3)   Since sardine and other small forage fish like anchovies and menhadan congregate in single-species schools in the water column (see the awesome photo by Jon Bertsch at the top of this post!), there’s relatively little bycatch. Fishers are able to catch these fish, and only these fish, without accidentally killing a lot of other marine life. This is emphatically not the case with the longline tuna fisheries for which forage fish become bait. Fish farming operations have other significant environmental impacts, such as the infection of wild salmon stocks with farmed salmon parasites and damage to the ocean bottom communities. Eating sardines directly is far better for the ocean environment than filtering them through large predators caught accidentally with more large predators.

Read the full article on DeepSeaNews.



Mar 28 2012

For California Fishermen, Squid Means Big Money

Capt Nick Jurlin's crew hauls squid aboard the Cape Blanco on their round trip from San Pedro to the western side of Santa Catalina Island. The catch is abundant -- and valuable. (Bob Chamberlin, Los Angeles Times)


















Written by Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times

Long before calamari reaches the table, crews set out from San Pedro and elsewhere to round up California’s most valuable catch. But environmentalists question whether the haul is too large.


As the sun sets over the ocean, the six crewmen on the Cape Blanco are starting a long night’s work off the far side of Santa Catalina Island, putting on orange slickers and hard hats to fish for the milky white mollusks that have become California’s most valuable catch.

Below the gentle waves off the side of the boat swims an immense school of market squid.

Capt. Nick Jurlin, pacing impatiently with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, is eager to pull in as much of it as possible.

Five nights a week, the third-generation fisherman from San Pedro steps into a pair of rubber boots and hunts for squid along the Southern California coast. The 50-year-old with spiky blond hair and wraparound sunglasses looks the part of a man who’s wrestled with nets in the salty air since he was a teenager — his arms are taut, his neck creased and weathered, his voice gravelly from going without sleep.

On a night like this, the 90-foot steel vessel can bring in as much as $50,000 worth of the seafood so popular worldwide that all but a fraction is shipped overseas to be served as calamari.

But for the Cape Blanco and dozens of squid fishing boats working out of ports like San Pedro and Monterey, the boom is an uncertain one. Doubts are emerging about how long one of California’s last remaining money fish will stay bountiful.

Though Jurlin and his crew are four hours from shore tonight, they are not alone.

Rocking in the waves around them are a dozen other purse seiners beginning the same ritual: encircling the darting mass of tentacled, hot dog-sized sea creatures with huge nets that will be cinched up like the drawstring of a purse.

A flotilla of smaller boats assists by following the swarms and coaxing them to the surface with 30,000-watt lanterns that light up the ocean with an otherworldly green and white glow.

On Jurlin’s signal, a deckhand swings a hefty metal bar above his head and slams it into a pelican hook, freeing a clunky metal skiff that plunges into the water and rumbles away, its motor filling the night air with exhaust.

Each man takes his position on the Cape Blanco’s deck, working among strained cables and ropes as thick as fire hoses. A hydraulic winch whirs, engines roar and propellers gurgle as a tangle of black netting, yellow floats and steel rings tumble into the water off the back of the boat. The skiff tows it all in a wide circle around the squid, trapping the school.

Most of the world’s market squid is harvested from California’s shallow waters, where they gather in enormous schools each year to mate, deposit their eggs on the seafloor and die.

Cold ocean conditions have drawn them in such numbers lately that fishermen have handily caught their 118,000-ton limit — enough to fill 60 Olympic-size swimming pools — and the state has shut them down early two years running. Surging demand in China, Japan, Mexico and Europe has boosted prices and launched a fishing frenzy worth more than $70 million a year.

The good times have drawn the attention of conservationists, who fear such abundant catches are threatening the foundation of a delicate marine food web. Groups like Oceana and Audubon California are pushing for new protections for squid, sardines, anchovies, herring and other small, schooling prey known as “forage fish.”

A bill moving its way through the California Legislature would require the state to leave more small fish in the water for seabirds, whales, dolphins and other natural predators to feed on.

Those like Jurlin, whose families have fished these waters for generations, say a smaller catch could be crippling.


During the squid season, Jurlin pushes off each afternoon from Terminal Island, where a few other purse seiners dock along a waterfront of weedy and abandoned lots where street names — Sardine, Cannery and Wharf — reflect a fish-packing industry that is largely gone.

He follows the squid from the Channel Islands to San Diego, setting out net after net and returning before dawn the next morning.

Tonight he motors along the backside of Catalina as his crewmen eat spaghetti and watch baseball in the galley. Many, like Jurlin, are the sons or grandsons of fishermen.

It isn’t long before they bring in their first net.

Frigid water falls in sheets from the net as it is pulled through a giant hydraulic pulley towering above the deck. The men pile it into a slippery mound, slowly corralling the squid closer to the boat.

Whether stacking rings or piloting the skiff, each crewman is dedicated to a single task. There is no conversation. It is dangerous, straining work, and they focus with intense precision.

By the time Jurlin and several deckhands reach over the side of the boat to gather the last bunches of loose net, their bright slickers are drizzled with black ink from the squid.

Fishing for squid can be good money, but it is unpredictable.

The boat’s owner, Tri Marine Fish Co., takes half the earnings, and the crew divides the rest. For a good night’s work, deckhands can earn well over $1,000 and the captain and engineer even more. On a bad night, they might catch enough to cover fuel.

In the off-season, the fishermen sew up nets, make repairs and paint the boats — without pay. A few months of the year, they make a little money fishing for sardines. But without squid, there are no big paychecks.

As luck would have it, the night’s first net bursts with an exceptional haul: 40 tons of squid.

“Everybody’s going to do real well tonight,” Jurlin tells the crew.

They lower a heavy metal pump into the thick stew, and the catch goes sloshing into the ship’s refrigerated wells below deck.

Once their catch is stowed, the crewmen hose off and light up cigarettes as the fog moves in.


A half century ago, the sardine was king of the sea.

In the 1930s and ’40s, the largest fishing industry in the Western Hemisphere centered on California’s harvest of the oily, silvery fish. Monterey was its capital, its crowded waterfront the backdrop for John Steinbeck novels such as “Cannery Row.”

But the boom went bust by mid-century as overfishing brought a devastating collapse.

Squid fishing exploded in the 1990s when worldwide demand jumped. Over the last decade, the California Department of Fish and Game has kept the fishery in check with catch limits, a ban on weekend fishing and a cap on the number of squid boats.

Squid come and go in cycles, streaming to shore when waters are cold and vanishing during warm El Niño periods. And they live just a year, making it difficult for scientists to assess the health of their population. Conservation groups, in saying current limits are too permissive, point to research saying those huge fluctuations make small species like squid particularly vulnerable to collapse.

The industry says California’s regulations already guard against overfishing and don’t need to be changed.


Standing at the helm in the dark, Jurlin studies a glowing grid of navigation screens and electronic fish finders.

He sips coffee and watches for diving birds and sea lions — nature’s squid detectors. He talks to himself to stay awake and keeps a running dialogue on the radio with friendly boats to gather intelligence on fishing spots.

Like many fishermen here, Jurlin is a descendant of immigrants, born into the profession.

His grandfather was an illegal immigrant from Croatia who jumped ship in Canada and made his way to San Pedro to fish almost a century ago. Jurlin’s father fished, and his grandmothers and mother packed tuna back when the San Pedro waterfront was alive with canneries.

Jurlin started working on Alaskan salmon vessels as a teenager and bought his first boat when he was 21.

Over the past 30 years, he and his wife have raised two daughters, bought a condo in downtown Long Beach and a second home in Arizona. Squid has paid for it all.

He has staked his future on being able to continue. When the first squid upswing hit 16 years ago, he bought his own seiner. During this boom he put his two sons-in-law aboard to learn the profession.

“We’ve been hitting it pretty good, but it’s sustainable,” he says. “We get a bad rap from the environmentalists. They’ll tell us there’s no fish, and we’ll come out here and see incredible amounts. They say we want to rape and pillage the ocean. But this is our livelihood.”

As is so often the case lately, Jurlin and his crew are catching so much squid so quickly that it strains buyers in San Pedro, who can only fit so much in their freezers.

So tonight, each vessel can load up with just 70 tons before returning to the docks, where workers will pump the squid ashore and slop it into plastic-lined boxes. Forklifts will wheel it into warehouse-sized blast freezers, where it will be prepared for shipment to Asia. From there, it will be processed and shipped around the world, some back to restaurants in California.

It’s just before midnight when the captain of a fellow squid boat, the Ferrigno Boy, radios to report he has caught too much. Could the Cape Blanco suck up the surplus?

“Okey-dokey,” Jurlin responds, setting down the radio. “That’s it. Another day in paradise.”

Read the article on Los Angeles Times.
Jul 26 2011

FORUM: Anti-fishing proposal would shipwreck balanced marine management

By D.B. Pleschner

North County Times

If you didn’t know better, you might think that forage fish like sardines and squid are on the brink of destruction in California.

That’s what some activists imply. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

California’s coastal pelagic “forage” fisheries are the most protected in the world, with one of the lowest harvest rates.

In addition to strict fishing quotas, the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), has implemented no-take reserves, including many near bird rookeries and haul-out sites to protect forage for marine life.

But activists are pushing even more restrictions in the form of Assembly Bill 1299.

California already provides a science-based process to manage forage species. The federal Pacific Fishery Management Council is also developing a California Current Ecosystem Management Plan, covering the entire West Coast, not just California state waters. Further, the federal Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery Management Plan that governs these fish adopted an ecosystem-based management policy more than a decade ago.

To initiate new legislation like AB 1299 as if no regulation exists is fiscally irresponsible and disrespectful of California’s management history.

The National Marine Fisheries Service voiced concern about the bill’s redundancy and overlap with federal management, pointing out that it could actually impede ecosystem-based management.

AB 1299 won’t protect forage species because virtually all range far beyond California state waters, which only extend three miles from shore.

But the bill does jeopardize the future of California’s historic wetfish fisheries, the backbone of California’s fishing economy. AB 1299 restricts California fishermen unfairly, because virtually all the forage species listed are actively managed or monitored by the federal government and most species are harvested along the entire West Coast.

In this economic crisis, why would California squander millions of dollars —- and sacrifice thousands of jobs —- on an unfunded mandate that duplicates existing laws?

Apparently this doesn’t matter to activists, whose rhetoric claims that overfishing is occurring in California now and a change is needed.

AB 1299 proponents have made many false claims about forage species. For example, they referenced a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration evaluation of the California Current Ecosystem, predicting a downward trend for some marine life, including squid, but failed to explain that this report was simply a draft. The evaluation excluded southern Californiawaters, where 80 percent of the squid harvest occurs. A record spawning event also occurred in 2010.

And consider sardines. After their decline in the 1940s, fishery managers instituted an ecosystem-based management plan that accounts for forage needs before setting harvest quotas, and reduces quotas in concert with natural declines in the resource. The harvest quota for the West Coast plummeted 74 percent from 2007 to 2011.

But activists embellished a NOAA graph to “prove” their claim that the current sardine population decline was due to overfishing. The marine scientist who developed the graph pointed out their error, stating, “You can rest assured that the U.S. has not exceeded the overfishing limit based on the rules in place today.”

In fact, the majority of California’s fishing community —- municipalities, harbor districts, recreational and commercial fishing groups, seafood companies and knowledgeable fishery scientists —- oppose AB 1299, seeing it as a disingenuous attempt to curtail sustainable fisheries unnecessarily.

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

Jul 11 2011

Thinking calamari? Smoke it

Calamariphoto © 2008 Robin | more info (via: Wylio)

What you might find interesting about this calamari recipe from Michael Sargent is the grill.

There are a growing number of people who are buying the Big Green Egg for their backyard grilling and becoming fanatical about its qualities. Sargent often gives cooking demonstrations using the Big Green Egg at Foster’s Grill Store on Eastern Avenue.

Calamari is the Italian name for squid, and the squid is a mollusk that is related to cuttlefish and octopus. They range in size from an inch or so up to 80 feet, but the most common size for eating is less than 12 inches. The meat is white and firm with a mild, sweet and what some describe as a nutty flavor. Although you can eat the tentacles, the main body is the prime section of meat. It can be stuffed whole, cut into flat pieces, or sliced crosswise into perfect rings. Here only the main body part is used.

This is a simple recipe that takes no time to prep or cook. The thin slices look wonderful as they curl atop a bed of spring mix greens. And the flavor of the delicate calamari comes through without being overpowered by the usual ingredients or preparations, drowning the creature in bread crumbs and hot oil, or smothering it in peppers.

Click here for the Grilled Calamari recipe.












Jun 22 2011

Squid Studies: Scientists Seeking and Savoring Squid

William Gilly, a professor of biology at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, embarked on new expedition this month to study jumbo squid in the Gulf of California on the National Science Foundation–funded research vessel New Horizon. This is his second blog post about the trip.

By William Gilly

SEA OF CORTEZ— As we moved up the Gulf towards Guaymas, we continued to prepare our equipment. Actually, this will be a never-ending focus for the next two weeks. A research cruise in most cases is a creation in progress, and ‘equipment’ in our case ranges from Brad Seibel’s industrial-scale plumbing system for keeping big squid alive during experiments to our collection of fishing gear to catch squid. Everything will need constant, meticulous attention.

We arrived in Guaymas mid-afternoon and collected the rest of our party by 7 pm and immediately headed out to deep water about 10 miles offshore for our first exploratory squid jigging session. We arrived around 10:00 pm at the chosen site where a finger-like canyon poked back toward Guaymas. We immediately began to catch squid, and this had a predictable effect. We believe that catching a squid automatically triggers joyful exuberance. We have seen this phenomenon hundreds of times over the last decade. If there is photo of someone frowning while holding up a squid for the camera, we would like to see it. We doubt such an image exits.

Within an hour or so we collected our target sample of 20 to 30 squid. They were lined up sequentially on deck, measured, weighed, sexed and assessed for stage of maturity. This is information is simple but vital for two main reasons.

First, it is necessary to confirm the size of animals being sampled by the scientific sonar system on board that is being used by the Oregon State group. Acoustic data collected shows the depth where the squid and their prey are, and it can also be used to calculate numbers of squid or biomass – but only if you know how large the squid are that are being sampled acoustically. This is standard fare for acoustic assessment of fin-fish fisheries around the world, but use of such methods with squid is much less widespread. Kelly Benoit-Bird’s team from Oregon State is doing pioneering work in this area, and her insights and creativity were recognized with a MacArthur award in 2010.

Read the rest at Scientific American.

May 27 2011

Fishermen end strike, net bountiful harvests of market squid

Local Flavor: About half of the dozen boats fishing squid in Monterey Bay this spring are residents of the Monterey and Moss Landing harbors, according to Monterey Harbormaster Steve Scheiblauer. Above, fresh catch at Monterey Fish Company.

Glowing boats bob in the night off Pacific Grove’s coast, their lights luring lusty Loligo opalescens from the depths.

The romantic sight marks the return of Monterey Bay’s 150-year-old market squid fishery after an unofficial fishermen’s strike threatened to delay this year’s harvest.

When the squid season began April 1, local fishermen held back in hopes of pressuring processors to bump the price of calamari from $500 to $600 per ton, according to David Haworth, vice president of the California Wetfish Producers Association.

Blame it on gas prices: Boat captains, who aren’t unionized, negotiated with the four local squid processors in hopes of recovering some of their increased fuel costs. But the processors, who ship squid to Europe and China, are feeling the squeeze too.

“Our costs are up because of ocean freight being higher,” says Sal Tringali of the Salinas-based Monterey Fish Company. “The fuel’s killing us.”

Fishermen and processors were still at an impasse in early May. But some of the captains couldn’t pass up a good squid year, even at $500 per ton. Once they’d broken the liquid picket line, Haworth says, the other boats resumed fishing too.

The catch has been good: Royal Seafood founder Joe Pennisi says his son, Gino, recently unloaded 200 tons in a single evening.

“When there’s quantity,” he says, “you don’t worry about the price so much.”

Read the rest in the Monterey County Weekly.


May 20 2011

Can squid ink pasta really stop cancer & tumor cells from growing?

Check out the various black foods at Sacramento’s Whole Foods Market. New studies reveal that foods containing black squid ink fight cancer and tumor cells by preventing the growth of new blood vessels which causes tumor and cancer cells to grow.

Sacramento’s new food trend is to eat black foods, especially squid ink pasta with black beans one day and black rice with blueberries the next. If you look at Sacramento’s various natural food markets, stores are carrying more black foods such as black rice (also known as ‘forbidden’ rice) and squid ink pasta. See, Squid Ink Pasta: Cooking Terms:

Read the rest of the post here.

Jan 17 2011

Mineo brothers grateful for bountiful squid season

By Robert Walch • January 14, 2011

The Californian (Salinas)

Squid are poured into bins on Wharf No. 2 in Monterey from the Mineo brothers' boat in November. (ROBERT WALCH of The Californian)

Third-generation Monterey fishermen Frank Mineo and his older brother, Sal, hope that they will be able to make it to the end of their working lives in the family business. Whether there will be another generation of Mineo men fishing on Monterey Bay remains to be seen.

With new regulations, closed fisheries and the fickleness of the fish population, fishing on the Central Coast has always been a feast-or-famine proposition.

Frank Mineo, a Fisherman’s Flats resident, said there have been a few years recently when taking the Mineo Bros.’ 58-foot Alaskan Limit Seiner out into the bay was a money-losing proposition. But this year has been different. Very different!

“It has been up and down for years because of weather, nutrient upwelling, water temperature and other things,” Mineo said. “Over the last decade, our biggest season was 2003, but this year will be the best we have had in 20 years of fishing.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Dec 18 2010

Commercial Market Squid Fishery Closes December 17

Based on landings information and projections, Department of Fish and Game (DFG) biologists expected that the season’s harvest limit of 118,000 short tons of market squid would be reached by Friday, December 17. The squid fishing season runs from April through the following March of each year, and the fishery closure will remain in effect through March 31, 2011. This is the first season the harvest limit has been attained since it was implemented by the Fish and Game Commission in 2004 as part of the California Market Squid Fishery Management Plan.

Squid fishermen and processors have assisted DFG in tracking daily catches this fall, as record squid abundance signaled the likelihood of reaching the harvest limit, established to ensure the squid fishery does not expand beyond levels experienced in the 1990s. “The wetfish industry and California Wetfish Producers Association (CWPA) are very pleased to partner with DFG to ensure a sustainable market squid resource and fishery,” says California Wetfish Producers Association Executive Director Diane Pleschner-Steele.

”The mission of the nonprofit CWPA is to facilitate collaborative research and management of our marine resources,” Pleschner-Steele explains.  “Our market squid research program predicted a good season this fall, but this has been truly amazing.”

Under the supervision of Dr. Doyle Hanan, retired DFG senior marine biologist supervisor formerly responsible for market squid and coastal pelagic fisheries, squid fishermen have learned how to tow scientific bongo nets to collect squid hatchlings, called paralarvae.  They time these field surveys to coincide with quarterly California Cooperative Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) oceanic research cruises.  Dr. Hanan has observed a correlation between increased paralarvae abundance and a productive fishery six- to nine months later.

(Learn more about CWPA’s market squid research program here.)

The presence of market squid is strongly correlated with environmental factors, such as water temperature and nutrient availability. In warm water years, such as during El Niño events, squid abundance drops sharply and landings decline. However, when water temperatures cool, even after severe warm water events, market squid numbers can rebound dramatically.

“Recent favorable environmental conditions generated the current surge in market squid abundance, says Dr. Hanan.  “The fact is there were plenty of adult squid and eggs produced to take advantage of these environmental conditions. This huge biomass has occurred while a squid fishery continued and a fishery management plan controlled fishing activities. From a fishery science and biological standpoint, this indicates that the management plan is indeed working.”

“We have had a banner year for market squid this year,” says Dale Sweetnam, DFG senior marine biologist who now oversees the commercial market squid fishery.  “In California, we have had squid landings from La Jolla to Half Moon Bay and reports that market squid are abundant off many of the offshore banks, the Channel Islands, as well as off Baja California.  The colder than normal water conditions we have observed since February have provided optimal conditions for squid spawning.”

According to the DFG News Release, market squid is by far California’s largest and most valuable commercial fishery. In 2009, just over 100,000 tons were landed with an ex-vessel value of $56.5 million. California market squid is used domestically for food – often identified as “calamari” in restaurants – and is an important international commodity. Last year, California fish businesses exported market squid to 36 countries with China the leading importer of California market squid.

The harvest limit is one of many provisions governing the squid fishery, which has been managed under the state’s Market Squid Fishery Management Plan (MSFMP) since 2005. The goals of the MSFMP are to ensure long-term conservation and sustainability of the market squid resource, reduce the potential for overfishing and provide a framework for management. In addition to the harvest limit, weekend closures were implemented to allow for periods of uninterrupted spawning each week.

The MSFMP was developed under the provisions set forth by California’s Marine Life Management Act (MLMA), which became law in 1999. The MLMA created state policies, goals and objectives to govern the conservation, sustainable use and restoration of California’s living marine resources.

(Read the entire DFG news release announcing the fishery closure here.)