Squid, Homboldt or Jumbo
Capture method — Jig
Capture area — South East Pacific (FAO 87)
Stock area — All areas
Stock detail —
The Humboldt squid population is unknown and is classed as data-deficient by the IUCN. The species is managed by escapement i.e. ensuring enough of the stock is left at the end of the fishing season to populate next years stock. However, there are issues with Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing which can undermine management’s efforts. To become more sustainable, the fishery needs to improve its enforcement and forecasting of future populations to accurately determine how many squid should be caught in the following fishing season.
The jumbo squid is the world’s largest nektonic squid reaching sizes up to 4 m total length. Jumbo squid ranges have increased over recent years and ranges from subtropical North and South America and more recently found off southern Chile, the West Coast of the United States and even as far as Alaska. They range from 660 to 2,300 feet in the eastern Pacific. Environmental conditions have a significant impact on recruitment and their population size. Jumbo squid reproduce in two cohorts with an autumn/winter cohort and another in spring/summer and are highly fertile.
The stock status of the Humboldt squid is unknown and the ICUN consider the stock as a data-deficient species. Their population size varies considerably with environmental variability particularly due to the El Nino. Since the 2009-2010 El Nino, landings have remained at historic lows. This is due to warmer sea surface temperatures and a lower coastal upwelling index. The converse is found for La Nina. Additionally, historic low landings are due to prolonged weak winds and extremely low chlorophyll a concentrations. This creates unfavourable habitats and feeding grounds for the squid which in turn means that squid mature at reduced sizes, grow to a smaller size and produce fewer eggs. Understanding the impact of environmental variability on squid is vital so that managers can determine and forecast the size of the stock and how high to set the quota to maintain a sustainable stock. Whilst the stock status is unknown, a recent study proposed that global cephalopod species are increasing due to increased favourable conditions in terms of climate and food sources. Since fishing has reduced cephalopod predators, it has enabled cephalopod species to flourish in previously unhabited areas. Though, squid catches have mainly reduced. The Dosidicus gigas fishery began in the 1990s and since then, fishing pressure has significantly increased with catches peaking in 2004, catches thereafter have remained between 650,000 and 950,000 MT. The largest fleets catching the Humboldt squid are Peruvian, Chinese, Chilian, Mexican vessels.
The fishery is managed through the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fishing (CONAPESCA) and the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA). The fishery is managed through ‘escapement’ (i.e. where enough of the squid population must be remaining after the fishing season, to populate the next season). Since D. gigas populations vary considerably with both environmental variability and fluctuating market demand, management bodies are required to react to unpredictable yields of squid and therefore, there are risks in overharvesting the stock. Models available for the fishery host high levels of uncertainty. Most data used in the models are fishery-dependent data and the management strategy lacks in both pre-fishing season surveys and fishery-independent data to determine and enforce lower biomass limits which would protect the escapement of the stock for each season. CONAPESCA requires that catch data is monitored weekly and published publicly on a monthly basis. The population structure and stock fluctuations are monitored to determine the effects of fishing on the stock. Management measures are generally effort orientated and include permits (regulated by CONAPESCA) which are required for all commercial fishermen. The effectiveness of this management is unknown. However, stock modelling and management is often undermined due to major issues existing around Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and current mitigation measures to prevent this are lacking. Historically, IUU fishing in Mexico has been a key issue and between 1950-2010 actual catches were double those that were recorded. The jumbo squid is the world’s largest nektonic squid reaching sizes up to 4m total length. Jumbo squid ranges have increased over recent years and ranges from subtropical North and South America and more recently found off southern Chile, the West Coast of the United States and even as far as Alaska. They range in depths from 660 to 2,300 feet in the eastern Pacific. Environmental conditions have a significant impact on recruitment and their population size. Jumbo squid reproduce in two cohorts with an autumn/winter cohort and another in spring/summer and are highly fertile.
This fishery catches Humboldt squid predominantly through jigging which is a low impact selective gear which doesn’t usually interact with the seabed and therefore presents negligible impact on habitats and bycatch. However, Dosidicus gigas has been considered as an exceptional species as it plays a key role in the ecosystem. This warrants their protection, however, there is currently insufficient data to understand the significance of their role. Their major ecological role has not been identified in current management and therefore, poses a risk to food webs over a large geographic area. The ecosystem frequently will endure fluctuating populations of Humboldt squid due to their sensitivity to environmental variability, though fishing pressure further exacerbates the pressure on this species and the risk of their absence in food webs.
Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.Abalone
Clam, Manila (Farmed)
Crab, brown or edible
Crawfish, Red Swamp
Lobster, Norway, Langoustine, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi
Mussel, mussels (Farmed)
Oyster, Native, oysters (Caught at sea)
Oyster, Native, oysters (Farmed)
Oyster, Pacific, oysters
Prawn, King (whiteleg), prawns
Prawn, Northern, prawns
Prawn, Tiger prawns (Farmed)
Scallop, King, scallops
Scallop, Queen, scallops
Squid, Japanese flying
ReferencesZ.A. Doubleday, Prowse T.A.A., Arkhipkin A., Pierce G.J, Semmens J., Steer M., Leporati S.C., Lourenco S., Quetglas A., Sauer W. 2016. Global proliferation of cephalopods, Current Biology 26(10): pp.406-407.
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/256998507_Jumbo_squid_Dosidicus_gigas_landings_in_the_Gulf_of_California_related_to_remotely_sensed_SST_and_concentrations_of_chlorophyll_a_1998-2012 [accessed May 18, 2016].)
F. Keyl, J. Arguelles, R. Tafur. Interannual variability in size structure, age, and growth of jumbo squid (Dosidicus gigas) assessed by modal progression analysis ICES J. Mar. Sci., 68 (3) (2011), pp. 507-518
Nigmatullin et al., 1999, C.M. Nigmatullin, V. Laptikhovsky, N. Mokrin, R. Sabirov, U. Markaida. On life history traits of the jumbo squid Dosidicus gigas. A.E. Tresierra Aguilar, Z.G. Culquichicon (Eds.), In Libro de Resumenes Ampliados, VIII Congreso Latinoamericano Sobre Ciencias del March, v.1, Malpica, Trujillo, Peru (1999), p. 291)
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222826783_Growth_mortality_recruitment_and_yield_of_the_jumbo_squid_Dosidicus_gigas_off_Guaymas_Mexico [accessed May 18, 2016].)