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Long-finned squid (Logligo pealei)

Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council

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Longfin squid inhabit coastal waters from the Caribbean to Newfoundland, but the area of highest concentration in U.S. waters extends from Cape Hatteras northward to Georges Bank, depending on season and ocean conditions. Longfin squid are generally found closer to shore than shortfin squid. The lifespan of longfin squid is short (12-24 months) and predation by fish and marine mammals is high. Bluefish, sea raven, spiny dogfish, white hake, summer flounder, Atlantic angel shark and roughtail stingray are just some of the many Loligo fish predators.1

The U.S. fishery began in the late 1800s as a source of bait. From 1928-1967, annual squid landings from Maine to North Carolina were small, ranging from 1-4 million pounds. During the era when foreign factory trawlers plundered North America's coastal fisheries from the late 1960s to early 1980s, catches of squid (both longfin and shortfin) briefly soared to record levels of nearly 400 million pounds � a hundred times higher than the highest recorded landings of the U.S. bait fishery. The contemporary U.S. trawl fishery is managed under the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council�s management plan for Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish. Since the mid-1990s, longfin squid catches have ranged from 26-42 million pounds annually.

Management Issues
Although the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's longfin squid management plan established proxy reference points corresponding to maximum sustainable yield (MSY) in 1998, the stock status criteria are outdated and estimates of stock abundance and fishing mortality in any given year are highly uncertain. The short lifespan of squid and difficulty of measuring stock abundance with conventional survey techniques cast doubt on management targets for MSY, which are not well-suited to squid�s unique life history.

Measures include annual catch limits partitioned into quarterly quotas, as well as a moratorium on fishery permits to prevent expansion of the fishing fleet and a minimum codend mesh size. However, there are crucial shortcomings in the Loligo management plan:

  • Optimum Yield (OY) may be set equal to the maximum fishing mortality rate associated with maximum sustainable yield (MSY), providing no margin for error and no buffer to account for uncertainty about MSY for this stock. To reduce the risk of overfishing, OY should be set well below the theoretical MSY level of fishing for this stock.
  • The policy of setting the annual quota at 75% of the maximum fishing mortality rate provides some margin of safety against the risk of exceeding MSY in theory, but MSY is not known and this procedure does not account for the needs of predators or the impacts on the recovery of overfished squid predators such as the summer flounder and bluefish (Staudinger 2006).
  • The minimum stock size threshold below which all fishing must cease is too low and leaves no margin of safety by allowing fishing until the stock has been reduced to less than half of the biomass associated with MSY (BMSY).

1 Ecological Relationships and Stock Characteristics � Amendment #2 to the FMP for Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fisheries, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Approved by NOAA 6 March 1986): pp. 16-22.

Copyright � Marine Fish Conservation Network. All Rights Reserved 2007

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