SQUID FISHING AND HUMAN FOOD
squid spinning machine in Japan Squids are common foods in many Asian and Mediterranean countries. Their mantels contain virtually no fat. The Japanese sometimes feed squids to their caged birds and have special squid snacks for dogs.
Squid are caught at night from squid jigger ships draped with bright lanterns that attract the squid which are caught with weighted and hooked lines that move up and down (jig) with the help of a hydraulic system. The waters between Japan and Korea are filled with lit-up squid boats. When flying over the waters around Japan and Korea at night you can see hundreds of lights from squid-fishing boats. On satellite images, these ships show up as glowing borders around Japan and South Korea.
Freshly caught squid are gutted the morning they are brought in and soaked in salt water and skewered with bamboo and hung to dry like laundry in the sun. Some places use squid-spinning machines tp get rid of excess water and speed up drying. Under the traditional method the squid are turned once before being collected in the evening and placed in storehouses. It is said the concentration of salt in the slated water and the amount of time the squid are soaked determines the flavor. Squid beaks are laid out on rack to dry in the sun.
Squids are hard to keep in a tank. They rarely survive for more than a few days. They spend most of the life roaming the seas and they loath being cooped up. They often cannibalize one another and injure or kill themselves by banging into the walls of the tank. Some suffocate in their own ink while others die of shock.
Overfishing and global warming could turn out to be a good thing for squids. Some scientists believed that their populations will dramatically increase as large fish that feed on them are fished out and warming seas allow them to spread and reproduce more quickly.
Websites and Resources: Animal Diversity Web (ADW) animaldiversity.org; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) noaa.gov; Fishbase fishbase.se ; Encyclopedia of Life eol.org ; Smithsonian Oceans Portal ocean.si.edu/ocean-life-ecosystems
Squid as Food in Japan and Korea
Squid is one of the most popular seafood in Japan, followed by tuna and salmon. The secret to tasty squid is keeping captured squid in water in which they were caught which keeps them from getting stressed out. When transported they are put in special tanks and cooled to near freezing temperatures. Japanese traditionally ate certain fish in certain seasons. Squid (“ ika” ) is the food of spring
Common snacks found on the streets and in convenience stores of Japan include shrimp-flavored and shredded dried squid. Aji horse mackerel — usually locally caught — has traditionally been the favorite fish in Japan. In 1965 it was the most popular fish, followed by squid and mackerel. In 2009, salmon became the No.1 fish in Japan, followed by squid and tuna.
Cuttlefish and squid are favorite snacks in Korea. Dried squid jerky called jingo is sold in every roadside shop and grocery and convenience store in the country. Shredded dried squid is eaten with peanuts and is a popular side dish at bars and other drinking establishments.
In towns along the coasts of Korea and Japan you often see clotheslines strung with thousands of drying squid and boats with lanterns used luring squids in nets. The organs of squids, which are not eaten, are used for fertilizer and paint ingredients.
Longfin Inshore Squid
Longfin inshore squid (Scientific name: Loligo pealeii or Doryteuthis (Amerigo) pealeii)) are medium-sized squid that grow to about 50 centimeters (1.6 feet) long. Also known as longfin squid, loligo, winter squid and Boston squid, they are very important to fishing industries throughout the world, including the United States, where they are pursued by both commercial and recreational fishers. In commercial fishing, they are sold to restaurants and stores. In recreational fishing they serve as bait for mahi-mahi, swordfish, and marlins [Source: Martha Rodriguez, Animal Diversity Web (ADW) /=]
Longfin inshore squid (Loligo pealeii)Longfin inshore squid are also sought after as specimen in neurobiology research. Its neurons are a thousand times larger than human neurons but have similarities with them and provided scientists with opportunities to study things like as sodium and potassium ion pumps and helped scientists to gain insights into heart disease, cancer, Alzherimer's Disease, and kidney disease . /=\
Longfin inshore squid have no special status on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). They are vulnerable to overfishing, and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northeast Fisheries Center has helped establish catch limits to keep their populations healthy and stable.
Longfin Inshore Habitat and Where They Live
Longfin inshore squid are native to the Atlantic Ocean and are typically found in coastal areas from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Venezuela, migrating to different places to spawn such as the Cape Cod area during the spring. These squid favor waters along the eastern continental shelf of North America, and in the Gulf of Mexico, coming into shallow waters near shore to lay eggs. The species are sometimes called the Woods Hole squid because they have been extensively studied at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. /=\
In the northwest Atlantic Ocean, longfin squid are most abundant between Georges Bank and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Adults live over mud or sand-mud substrates of the continental shelf and upper continental slope in waters as deep as 1,300 feet. Adults and juveniles migrate vertically in the water column, remaining near the seabed during the day and moving toward the surface at night. [Source: NOAA ~]
North of Cape Hatteras, squid migrate seasonally — offshore during late autumn to spend the winter in warmer waters along the shelf edge and slope, and back inshore during the spring where they remain until late autumn. Squid egg masses are attached to rocks and small boulders or aquatic vegetation and on sandy bottoms. Paralarvae are found in surface waters. Juveniles also live in the upper water column in water 50 to 500 meters (165 to 1,650 feet deep). ~
Longfin Inshore Squid Characteristics
squid drying in Japan Longfin squid are pink or orange and mottled with brown or purple. They have a reddish pink mantle (large part of the squid in front of the head), blueish purple fins and tentacles and an internal shell called a “pen.” Their fins are long, at least half the length of the mantle . The head has large eyes that are covered by a cornea. They are likely color blind, but are able to use special pigment cells in their skin (called chromatophores) to change their color and patterns to escape predators or disguise themselves from prey. [Source: NOAA ~]
Like all squid, longfin inshore squid have ten arms (eight of which are the same length, and one pair used for grabbing prey are longer) and three hearts (two close to their gills) so that they "can pump oxygen to the rest of the body easily." Their speed and maneuverability have earned them the description of "invertebrate athletes" Longfin inshore squid have the ability to quickly change color and color patterns. In addition to being defense mechanism to confuse and avoid predators, it is thought that this behavior is a form of communication employed in courtship. [Source: Martha Rodriguez, Animal Diversity Web (ADW)]
Longfin squid grow fast, up to half a meters (1.6 feet) mantle length but are usually less than 30 centimeters (one foot). They have a short life span, reproducing right before they die at around six to eight months old. Their growth and development is highly sensitive to environmental conditions. Squid hatched in the summer grow faster than those hatched in the winter. ~
Longfin Inshore Squid Food and Reproduction
Longfin inshore squid are carnivorous, feeding on chaetognaths (marine worms), crustaceans, decapod shrimp, fishes, polychaetes, other squid, and euphausids. They are aggressive hunters, can consume fish larger than themselves, and do eat their own species. They are a key prey species for a variety of marine mammals, diving birds, and finfish species. [Source: NOAA]
Longfin inshore squid spawn year-round, with peak production in winter and summer. The male cements bundles of spermatophores into the mantle cavity of the female and/or deposits them in a pouch located near her mouth. The spermatophores penetrate the ova, or sperm is stored for later use. The female lays fertilized egg capsules that contain about 150 to 200 eggs each in clusters attached to the ocean bottom, with a typical female laying a total of 3,000 to 6,000 eggs. Eggs hatch between 11 and 26 days later, depending on water temperature. Small immature longfin squid feed on plankton, and larger squid feed on crustaceans and small fish.
When males court females there is a lot of flashing skin colors. If accepted by a female, males use a modified arm (called a hectocotylus) to transfer a package of sperm called a spermatophore to the female. Females produce packets of about 200 eggs, and stick them to the sea floor in large groups with other females. Sometimes "sneaker" males lurk around the eggmasses, darting in to add their sperm as females lay their eggs. [Source: Martha Rodriguez, Animal Diversity Web (ADW)]
Longfin Inshore Squid Fishing
Fisheries for longfin inshore squid reflect the species’ seasonal migrations. In 2021, the commercial landings totaled 10.6 million kilograms (23.4 million pounds), and were valued at $33.4 million, according to the NOAA Fisheries commercial fishing landings database. Harvested for bait since the late 1800s, longfin inshore squid have been harvested since the mid-1960’s for their mild, sweet meat. The majority of landings come from Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. [Source: NOAA]
The majority of longfin inshore squid is harvested year-round using small-mesh bottom trawls. There are now only a few fishermen that use pound nets and fish traps during the spring and early summer when squid migrate inshore. Sandy or muddy habitat, where squid are fished, is less sensitive to the impacts of trawling. Small-mesh bottom trawls can incidentally catch marine mammals and large pelagic species, including pilot whales, common dolphin, swordfish, and a variety of shark, ray, and tuna species. Finfish such as butterfish, hakes, Illex squid, fluke, herring, spiny dogfish, and Atlantic mackerel are also incidentally caught in this fishery.
Measures to prevent or minimize bycatch include: 1) Bycatch cap for butterfish caught in the longfin fishery. 2) Minimum mesh size requirements for bottom trawl nets, but bycatch escapement is very limited because the codend mesh sizes are very small (1 7/8 in. during Trimester 2 and 2 1/8 in. during Trimesters 1 and 3) and are covered by an additional layer of mesh called a strengthener. 3) Outreach to fishermen to educate them on actions to take in the event of a marine mammal interaction. 4) Real-time communication to vessels regarding hotspots of marine mammal interactions.
NOAA Fisheries and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council manage the longfin inshore squid fishery.under the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan: 1) Fishermen with a limited access permit can fish for unlimited amounts of longfin inshore squid while the fishery is open. All other fishermen must obtain an incidental catch permit, and have possession limits. 2) An annual coastwide catch quota is divided into trimester allocations. Managers monitor annual quotas closely, as there can be large fluctuations in abundance from year to year. 3) Managers set a cap on the amount of butterfish that can be incidentally caught in the longfin inshore squid fishery to help prevent overfishing on the butterfish stock.
There are above target population levels. Harvest quotas are trimester-based to ensure that it is fished at the recommended level. According to the 2020 stock assessment, longfin inshore squid are not overfished. There is currently not enough information to determine whether the stock is subject to overfishing.
Shortfin squid (Scientific name: Illex illecebrosus) are also known as Illex squid and summer squid. Female shortfin squid range from 18 to 30 centimeters (7 to 12 inches) in mantle length, while males are 18 to 27 centimeters (7 to 10.6 inches) in mantle length. They can regulate their body color, but are primarily orange-colored with a brown stripe that extends along the top side of the mantle. [Source: NOAA]
Shortfin squid inhabits the continental shelf and slope waters of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, from Newfoundland to the central east coast of Florida. In the northwest Atlantic Ocean, shortfin squid are most often caught along the continental shelf break in depths between 150 to 275 meters (492 to 900 feet).
Shortfin squid live in deep and shallow waters on the continental shelf, continental slope, and open ocean depending on the season. They are found in nearshore waters of the Gulf of Maine during summer and fall.During spring, shortfin squid migrate onto the continental shelf, and during late fall, they migrate off the continental shelf. Spawning occurs in the waters off Rhode Island and New Jersey.. Their egg masses float in mid-water.
Shortfin squid live for less than one year. They have a high natural mortality rate, and a long spawning season. Females can release multiple egg masses during a single spawning season, but die after they spawn. Spawning can occur year round with seasonal peaks from October to June. Shortfin squid have extremely variable birth, growth, and maturity rates. This makes them extremely sensitive to climate-driven changes. They grow about one millimeter a day.
Shortfin squid undergo daily vertical migrations between cooler deep water and warmer surface water. They are nearest the seabed during the day, and higher in the water column during the night.. Shortfin squid are visual predators that eat crustaceans, fish, and other squid, including their own species. They are food for many fish, including bluefin tuna, silver hake, red hake, bluefish, goosefish, fourspot flounder, Atlantic cod, sea raven, spiny dogfish, and swordfish. Seabird predators include shearwaters, gannets, and fulmars.
Shortfin Squid Fishing
Fisheries for shortfin squid reflect the species’ seasonal migrations. The majority of landings come in U.S. waters from Rhode Island and New Jersey. In 2021, the commercial landings in the U.S. of shortfin squid totaled 17.7 million kilograms (39 million pounds), and were valued at $19.6 million according to the NOAA Fisheries commercial fishing landings database. [Source: NOAA]
Shortfin squid are harvested for bait domestically, and exported for bait and food. The majority of shortfin squid is harvested June 1 through October 31 using small-mesh bottom trawls. The fishery is open year round, but the squid aren’t available in commercial quantities year round.
Sandy or muddy habitat, where squid are fished, is less sensitive to the impacts of trawling. Small-mesh bottom trawls can incidentally catch marine mammals and large pelagic species, including pilot whales, common dolphin, swordfish, and a variety of sharks, ray, and tuna species. Finfish such as butterfish, hakes, longfin inshore squid, summer flounder, herring, spiny dogfish, and Atlantic mackerel are also incidentally caught in this fishery.
Measures to prevent or minimize bycatch include: 1) Fishing must occur seaward of the 50-fathom depth line to reduce finfish and longfin inshore squid bycatch. 2) Outreach to fishermen to educate them on actions to take in the event of a marine mammal interaction. 3) Real-time communication to vessels regarding hotspots of marine mammal interactions.
NOAA Fisheries and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council manage the shortfin squid fishery.under the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan: 1) Fishermen with a limited access permit can fish for unlimited amounts of shortfin squid while the fishery is open. All other fishermen must obtain an incidental catch permit, and have possession limits. An annual coastwide catch quota is set annually. Managers monitor annual quotas closely, as there can be large fluctuations in abundance from year to year.
The population level of shortfin squid is unknown. The species has a lifespan of less than one year. The fishing rate is at recommended level. According to the latest assessment (2005 stock assessment), shortfin squid is not subject to overfishing. There is currently not enough information to determine the population size, so it is unknown.
California market squid (Scientific name: Doryteuthis (Loligo) opalescens) are pale pink in color and have red speckles all over and big eyes. Also known as squid, Pacific loligo squid and opalescent inshore squid, they have eight arms and two tentacles like almost all squids that extend from the ends of their bodies where their mouths are located. They also have a mixed, iridescent coloration of milky white and purple, but their coloring can change in response to environmental conditions. [Source: NOAA]
Market squid are found from the tip of Baja California to southeastern Alaska, but are most abundant between Punta Eugenia in Baja California and Monterey Bay, California. They live in the water column from the surface to depths of 792 meters (2,600 feet) and prefer the salty ocean and are rarely found in estuaries, bays, or river mouths..
Market squid are fast-growing animals with a short natural life span. They reach up to 1 foot in total length, including their arms. Juveniles feed on small crustaceans. As they grow, they feed on krill, small crustaceans, small fish, and other squid. Market squid are a critical food source for a variety of fish (salmon, lingcod, and rockfish), seabirds, and marine mammals..
Market squid reproduce right before they die, around one year of age. They spawn year-round. Spawning occurs April through October in central California and October through the end of April or May in southern California. Spawning squid congregate in large schools near their spawning grounds, usually over sandy habitats. Males deposit spermatophores into females, and the eggs are fertilized as females release them. Females produce about 20 egg cases, with each case containing about 200 individual eggs. Females deposit eggs on sandy habitats, building large mounds of egg cases. Eggs take several days to months to hatch, depending on temperature. Newly hatched eggs are called “paralarvae” and resemble miniature adults.
Market Squid Fishing
In 2021, the commercial landings in the U.S. of market squid totaled 48.7 kilograms (107.3 million pounds) and were valued at $64 million, according to the NOAA Fisheries commercial fishing landings database. Purse seines and scoop nets are used to harvest market squid. Habitat and bycatch impacts are minimal because the gear is used at the surface around dense schools of fish, which usually contain only one species. [Source: NOAA]
Fishermen usually fish for market squid at night directly above the spawning grounds where females lay their eggs. Squid seiners typically work with light boats — smaller vessels with several high-powered lights pointed from various angles. The lights attract groups of spawning squid to surface waters. Once a group of squid comes to the surface, the light boat signals the seiner to deploy its net, encircling the light boat, in order to catch the squid located under the lights.
California market squid are an important source of bait for the state’s recreational fishing industry. The fishing rate is unknown. Timing of fishing can promote annual replacement of the population. Pelagic gear used to catch market squid has minimal impact on bottom habitat. Bycatch is low because pelagic roundhaul gear is selective. [Source: NOAA]
NOAA Fisheries, the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife manage the market squid fishery in California. Guidelines and the State of California’s Market Squid Fishery Management Plan includes: 1) Seasonal catch limits. 2) Monitoring programs designed to evaluate the impact of the fishery on the resource. 3) Time and seasonal closures, including weekend closures (that provide for periods of uninterrupted spawning), and limitations on using lights to attract squid around several of the Channel Islands to protect nesting seabirds. 4) Permit system limits access to the fishery.
Squid have a short life span (6 to nine months) and fishermen target spawning squid because they die shortly after they reproduce. The population level is unknown. The entire population replaces itself annually. Short- and long-term changes in the market squid population are poorly understood, so there are no reliable estimates of population. Even without fishing, the entire population replaces itself annually. As a result, market squid populations can handle a relatively high amount of fishing pressure. Ensuring that fishermen capture squid that have already spawned is key to the production of the next generation and future health of the population.
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons, NOAA, spinning and drying squid by Ray Kinnane
Text Sources: Animal Diversity Web (ADW) animaldiversity.org; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) noaa.gov; Wikipedia, National Geographic, Live Science, BBC, Smithsonian, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Reuters, Associated Press, Lonely Planet Guides and various books and other publications.
Last Updated April 2023