About the Species
U.S. wild-caught shortfin squid is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
The population level is unknown. The species has a lifespan of less than one year.
At recommended level.
Fishing gears used to harvest shortfin squid have minimal impacts on habitat.
Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.
- According to the latest assessment, shortfin squid is not subject to overfishing. There is currently not enough information to determine the population size, so it is unknown. Summary stock assessment information can be found on Stock SMART.
- Female shortfin squid range from 7 to 12 inches in mantle length, while males are 7 to 10.6 inches in mantle length.
- They can regulate their body color, but are primarily orange-colored with a brown stripe that extends along the top side of the mantle.
- Shortfin squid live for less than one year. They have a high natural mortality rate, and a long spawning season.
- Females can release multiple egg masses during a single spawning season, but die after they spawn. Spawning can occur year round with seasonal peaks from October to June.
- Shortfin squid have extremely variable birth, growth, and maturity rates. This makes them extremely sensitive to climate-driven changes.
- They grow about one millimeter a day.
- Shortfin squid are visual predators that eat crustaceans, fish, and other squid, including their own species.
- They are food for many fish, including bluefin tuna, silver hake, red hake, bluefish, goosefish, fourspot flounder, Atlantic cod, sea raven, spiny dogfish, and swordfish. Seabird predators include shearwaters, gannets, and fulmars.
- Shortfin squid undergo daily vertical migrations between cooler deep water and warmer surface water. They are nearest the seabed during the day, and higher in the water column during the night.
Where They Live
- Shortfin squid inhabits the continental shelf and slope waters of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, from Newfoundland to the central east coast of Florida.
- In the northwest Atlantic Ocean, shortfin squid are most often caught along the continental shelf break in depths between 150 to 275 meters.
- NOAA Fisheries and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council manage the shortfin 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 shortfin 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 set annually. Managers monitor annual quotas closely, as there can be large fluctuations in abundance from year to year.
- Commercial fishery
- In 2019, commercial landings of shortfin squid totaled approximately 58 million pounds, and were valued at approximately $27.3 million according to the NOAA Fisheries commercial fishing landings database. These figures may not match other agency sources of data due to confidential information.
- Fisheries for shortfin squid reflect the species’ seasonal migrations.
- The majority of landings come from Rhode Island and New Jersey.
- Harvested for bait domestically, and exported for bait and food.
- Gear types, habitat impacts, and bycatch:
- The majority of shortfin squid is harvested June 1 through October 31 using small-mesh bottom trawls. The fishery is open year round, but the squid aren’t available in commercial quantities year round.
- Sandy or muddy habitat, where squid are fished, is less sensitive to the impacts of trawling.
- Small-mesh bottom trawls can incidentally catch marine mammals and large pelagic species, including pilot whales, common dolphin, swordfish, and a variety of sharks, ray, and tuna species. Finfish such as butterfish, hakes, longfin squid, summer flounder, herring, spiny dogfish, and Atlantic mackerel are also incidentally caught in this fishery.
- Measures to prevent or minimize bycatch include:
- Fishing must occur seaward of the 50-fathom depth line to reduce finfish and longfin inshore squid bycatch.
- Outreach to fishermen to educate them on actions to take in the event of a marine mammal interaction.
- Real-time communication to vessels regarding hotspots of marine mammal interactions.
Recreational Fishing Regulations
There are no recreational possession limits or fish size requirements in Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish fisheries as long as the vessel carries an SMB2 Charter Party Permit.
Fish Size Limits:
Minimum Fish Size: None
Maximum Fish Size: None
Reporting A Recreational Catch
Charter/Party and Recreational Reporting
Catch Reporting and Vessel Trip Reports
If the owner of a party or charter boat is issued only a charter/party permit, and is carrying passengers for hire, then they must complete a VTR for each trip on which they land any fish.
Interactive Voice Response System Requirements
The Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish fisheries do not have any IVR requirements. However, if you are participating in a research program such as research set-aside (RSA) or fishing with an exempted fishing permit (EFP), there are IVR requirements. Please refer to your RSA or EFP paperwork for instruction on using IVR.
Marine Recreational Information Program
The Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) is a system of coordinated voluntary data collection programs designed to estimate recreational catch and effort
Commercial Fishing Regulations
Specifications are reviewed annually and are adjusted as new information becomes available.
|SMB 3 Squid/Butterfish Incidental||10,000 lb||250 lb||600 lb|
|SMB 6 Illex Squid Moratorium Permit||Unlimited||-||-|
Fish Size Limits
Minimum fish size: Not applicable
Maximum fish size: Not applicable
When 94 percent of the Illex squid DAH is projected to be harvested, the directed fishery will be limited to a 10,000-pound possession limit for the remainder of the calendar year.
Reporting A Commercial Catch
Catch Reporting and Vessel Trip Reports (VTR): Owner/operators participating in the Illex squid fishery must submit trip reports weekly. Reports must be postmarked or received by midnight of the Tuesday following the reporting week (Sunday through Saturday). If a trip starts in one week, and offloads in the next, it should be reported in the week the catch was offloaded.
48-hour Illex reporting required after July 15 for commercial dealers for the remainder of the fishing year.
VMS Requirements: The owner or operator of a vessel issued an Illex squid moratorium permit must report catch (retained and discarded) of longfin squid daily via VMS. Reports are required even if Illex squid caught that day have not yet been landed
Subsistence Fishing Regulations
Coming soon. Please visit our Mackerel, Squid, Butterfish page on our old website for information.