Longfin squid

About The Species

U.S. wild-caught longfin squid is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.

Population Level

Above target population levels.

Fishing Status

Harvest is apportioned throughout the year to ensure that it is fished at the recommended level.

Habitat Impact

Fishing gears used to harvest longfin squid have minimal impacts on habitat.

Bycatch

Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.

Status

  • According to the 2011 stock assessment, longfin squid are not overfished. There is currently not enough information to determine whether the stock is subject to overfishing, but squid can handle relatively high fishing pressure because the entire population replaces itself about every 6 months.
Appearance
  • Longfin squid have an internal shell called a “pen.”
  • Their fins are long, at least half the length of the mantle (large part of the squid in front of the head).
  • The head has large eyes that are covered by a cornea.
  • They are pink or orange and mottled with brown or purple.
  • They are likely color blind, but are able to use special pigment cells in their skin (called chromatophores) to change their color and patterns to escape predators or disguise themselves from prey.  
Behavior and Diet
  • Longfin squid grow fast, up to 1.6 feet mantle length (large part of the squid in front of the head), but usually less than 1 foot.
  • They have a short life span, reproducing right before they die at around 6 to 8 months old.
  • Their growth and development is highly sensitive to environmental conditions. Squid hatched in the summer grow faster than those hatched in the winter. 
  • They spawn year-round, with peak production in winter and summer. The male cements bundles of spermatophores into the mantle cavity of the female and/or deposits them in a pouch located near her mouth. The spermatophores penetrate the egg capsules, or sperm is stored for later use. 
  • The female lays fertilized egg capsules that contain about 150 to 200 eggs each in clusters on the ocean bottom, with a typical female laying a total of 3,000 to 6,000 eggs. Eggs hatch between 11 and 26 days later, depending on water temperature.
  • Small immature longfin squid feed on plankton, and larger squid feed on crustaceans and small fish.
  • They are aggressive hunters, can consume fish larger than themselves, and do eat their own species.
  • They are a key prey species for a variety of marine mammals, diving birds, and finfish species. 
Location Description

Longfin squid are found from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Venezuela.
In the northwest Atlantic Ocean, longfin squid are most abundant between Georges Bank and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Management
  • NOAA Fisheries and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council manage the longfin squid fishery.
  • Managed under the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan:
    • Fishermen with a limited access permit can fish for unlimited amounts of longfin squid while the fishery is open. All other fishermen must obtain an incidental catch permit, and have possession limits.
    • An annual coastwide catch quota is divided into three allocations throughout the fishing year. Managers monitor annual quotas closely, as there can be large fluctuations in abundance from year to year.
    • Managers set a cap on the amount of butterfish that can be incidentally caught in the longfin squid fishery to help prevent overfishing on the butterfish stock.
    • Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch of marine mammals, large pelagic species, and finfish, which can be incidentally caught in the small-mesh longfin squid fishery.