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No limits on recreational squid fishing; owner-operators suspect abuse

The recreational squid fishery is open year-round, and while there are no limits on the amount the general public can catch — squid caught recreationally cannot be bought, sold, traded or bartered. But then as one owner-operator sees it, "If there's a boat landing with 2,000-3,000/lbs of squid aboard — they're not eating it."

This video of northern short fin squid was taken Wednesday evening (Aug. 18th, 2021) just outside Bonavista by fisherman Lee Tremblett.

From social media videos of squid breaching at the sight of a jigger to boats geared up with squid rollers — both on the water, and on trailers being transported to the fishing grounds — squids or signs of them are everywhere these days.

Some licensed owner-operators say they're limited to landing 3,000/lbs of squid a day because that's all their processor is prepared to buy.

At the same time, they're seeing more people on the water catching squid who don't have licences than those who do.

Said one owner-operator, "It's a strange going on. You can regulate fishermen to death, but you can't drive those people off the water."

Fishermen say they may start reporting people who they suspect may be selling squid — either door-to-door or to processors. "These people are taking money out of my pocket."

But then that's what Fisheries and Oceans recommends.

"The squid fishery is subject to compliance monitoring," a spokesman says. "If non-compliance is suspected, the public may report the activity to their local C&P detachment office or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)."

Northern short fin squid are have been plentiful in Newfoundland and Labrador waters over the last couple of years. These squid washed ashore in July while chasing caplin on Bellevue Beach, Trinity Bay.

The 2021 price paid to inshore harvesters for squid has been negotiated at 66¢/lb — a 14% drop from last year’s 77¢/lb, and well down from the $1/lb offered in 2019 before the worldwide pandemic.

Squid in Canadian waters is not managed by DFO, but by the Northwest Atlantic Organization, which (mis)manages waters outside the 200-mile limit. The total allowable catch for squid has been set at 34,000 tonnes for 2020, 2021, and 2022.

Only about 4,000 tonnes of squid was taken last year, with about 77% harvested by Canada.

Ryan Cleary,


Also read SEA-NL's: Low down on squid, and Who knows the mind of a squid? 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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