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Low-down on squid

Loads of "squids" around these days, but information on local landings in recent years is hard to come by — with relatively small catches by the province’s inshore fleet compared to a huge overall total allowable catch (TAC) of 34,000 tonnes.

Last weekend squid and caplin littered Bellevue Beach, Trinity Bay.

With such a high quota, it’s surprising to learn that Newfoundland and Labrador actually imports more squid than is caught locally.

An estimated 1,200 tonnes of squid were landed in 2018 in Newfoundland and Labrador, up from 300 tonnes in 2017. That information is included here in a 2019 report of the province's fish price-setting panel.

Locally caught squid is mostly used as bait in the snow crab fishery, which uses an estimated 4,500 tonnes a year.

To make up the apparent shortfall in locally caught squid, more squid is imported from countries like Argentina, although limited information exists on squid imports, “and what does exist is unreliable.” That info is also included in the 2019 panel report.

Squid has also become increasingly expensive, especially the imported stuff, although receipts to harvesters do not distinguish between locally sourced and imported squid for bait.

How crazy is that?

The price of squid bait has risen right along with the price of crab. Between 2015-2019 squid bait prices to harvesters increased to $2.10/lb from $1.20/lb, while prices to squid harvesters increased to 85¢/lb from 55¢/lb.

Meantime, the latest 2021 price of crab is $7.60/lb, up from a high of $2.45/lb in 2015.

The 2021 price paid to NL inshore harvesters for squid is to be negotiated by July 21st, or it will go to the province’s fish-price setting panel to make the decision. The information is spelled out in a previous SEA-NL post found here.

The fish price setting panel said it straight up that “bait prices have proportionately increased faster than prices paid to squid harvesters.”

Isn't that too often the way?


In fact, the squid found directly off the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador right out to the edge of the continental shelf — including international waters on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap, as well as the Scotian Shelf, Bay of Fundy and Gulf of St. Lawrence — is NOT managed by Canada, but by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization.

That's the same NAFO crowd that has done such a miserable job over the decades of managing migrating groundfish stocks such as cod once they swim over the imaginary line in the water that is the 200-mile limit.

Again, how crazy is that?

The total allowable catch for squid has been set at 34,000 tonnes for 2020, 2021, and 2022. The season typically opens in August (although squid seem to be around much earlier this year), but can vary by Squid Fishing Area and gear type (traps vs jiggers). New commercial licences for squid are available to core enterprises.

The tool for finding NAFO catch statistics is found here at the organization's website.

It appears that in 2020 Canada caught 3,162 tonnes of the 34,000-tonne quota.

DFO reports on its website here that in 2020 2,679 tonnes of squid were caught in Newfoundland and Labrador at a landed value of $4.5 million, and at an average price of 77¢/lb.

Ryan Cleary,


Independent licensed owner-operators are encouraged to join SEA-NL here. These blog posts will be public for a limited time, before becoming exclusive to the membership.

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