Recent research conducted through the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources, Global Fishing Watch, Security at the University of Wollongong, and the Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency determined that squid fishing has increasingly expanding into unregulated waters.

Though unregulated fishing is not illegal in these areas, it is presenting challenges to sustain the squid population.

Researchers in this study found that global squid fleets have expanded by moving to different locations in high seas. They used vessel tracking, satellite imaging, and monitored the data of the fishing activities and found that there has been a 68 percent increase in activity from 2017 to 2020.

Some 86 percent of the fishing vessels’ activity was in unregulated waters.

The research found that even though some management and conservations measures are there to regulate squid fishing, there’s a need for more tracking in place to monitor the fishing happening in the unregulated areas.

In Salem, Ore., a rule to prohibit the use of light boats in the market squid fishery was voted by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission and filed by the Secretary of State on March 17. The rule was placed into effect the same day. 

The concern for light boats is that they attract the squid to the surface at night, which makes the species easier to catch. The commission had raised concern to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to develop the original proposal that would prohibit light boats from the commercial quick fishery back in February 2022. 

Though the commission heard from both sides of this fishery- commercial fishers that use light boats, and ones that are opposed to the use, they determined to sustain the population they must ban the use. 

The proposal also clarified that seine skiffs used alongside purse seine boats must also obtain a commercial fishing license. Seine skiffs will continue to be allowed to attract squid by light if the squid is taken up by the same catching vessel displaying the lights.

Squid fishing is open year-round in the state of Oregon but closed to purse seining from noon on Fridays through noon on Sunday each week.

Commercial squid fishing is a growing industry in Oregon, and the commission and ODFW, is determined to keep the population as healthy as possible.

The commission and Global Fishing Watch hope that further studies of unregulated waters and the ban of Oregon state commercial squid fishing light boats will hopefully help sustain market squid fishing for years to come. 

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Carli is a Content Specialist for National Fisherman. She comes from a fourth-generation fishing family off the coast of Maine. Her background consists of growing her own business within the marine community. She resides on one of the islands off the coast of Maine while also supporting the lobster community she grew up in.

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