2018 Status Report for Squid Species in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands
Historically, squids in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) region have been managed as a target stock complex with annual harvest specifications. In June 2017, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) took final action to amend the fishery management plans (FMPs) for the BSAI (Amendment 117) and Gulf of Alaska (GOA; Amendment 106) regions and move the squid stock complex into the Ecosystem Component category. The rationales for this decision included (1) the lack of a directed fishery for squids in the BSAI or GOA, (2) because squids are highly productive, there is little risk of overfishing in the absence of a directed fishery, and (3) current incidental fishing mortality is considered insignificant at a population level.
As of the fall 2018 assessment cycle there is no longer a need for annual catch limits for squids or a formal stock assessment and fishery evaluation (SAFE) report. However the amendments, as well as the Plan Teams and SSC, call for monitoring of squid catches and regular reporting on squid status. The existing biennial “forage species” reports appear to be the most efficient means for doing this reporting. While the forage reports are focused on the “forage fish” group established in the FMP, they also include reporting on catches of herring and shrimp. In addition each report has a comprehensive section addressing all species considered to have a major forage role in each region, including squids, and directing readers to relevant documents for more information. The squid sections currently contain links to the relevant SAFE reports, and this could be modified to include catch and status information directly in the reports. Forage species reports are published in odd years in the BSAI and even years in the GOA.