After several years of bounty, California’s commercial landings of market squid — the species better known to hungry diners as calamari — are down by about two-thirds compared to this time last year.
The squid are responding to this year’s El Nino conditions, scientists say, but whether their numbers are declining or they’re simply eluding fishermen is unknown, according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist Laura Ryley.
Commercial fishermen brought in about 114,000 tons of market squid last year, generating more than $72 million. That was about 30 percent of California’s commercial fishing income for the year, according to the California Department of Fish and Game. Fishermen landed about 107,000 tons by the end of October last year, compared to only about 34,000 tons by the end of October this year.
“When we look for squid during or shortly after El Nino events, we find less of them,” said Louis Zeidberg, a professor at Cal State Monterey Bay.
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