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Jumbo Squid Fishery in Southeast Pacific Waters

Global Fishing Watch is analyzing the activity across the pelagic squid fleets. Spanning the globe, the vessels move between regions, often fishing in areas where stocks straddle jurisdictions. A lack of baseline data makes management measures difficult to implement. By harnessing innovative technology, our analysts aim to evaluate the fishing and non-fishing activity of the pelagic squid fleet to provide a better understanding of the fleets’ behavior.

The jumbo squid is the most abundant marine invertebrate of the southeastern Pacific. It is a voracious predator that migrates annually from Mexican waters down to the Chilean coast.

Demand for jumbo squid is increasing due to the fact that 75 percent of the animal can be used for food and because of its high nutritional value. Catches of jumbo squid have continued to grow significantly since the early 2000s and are important to local economies. In Peru, it is the second-largest fishery after anchovy.

The jumbo squid fishery is managed by the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization, whose convention area extends from 120 degrees east to 67 degrees west longitude along the waters of Ecuador, Peru and Chile.

The vast majority of the distant water fleet targeting jumbo squid are Chinese vessels, followed by vessels from the Republic of Korea and Chinese Taipei.

* 2018, SPRFMO

Squid are drawn to the ocean surface using artificial light. Squid jigging vessels have overhead lights which illuminate the water and attract squid. The squid are caught with a jig, a type of fishing lure armed with numerous hooks joined in vertical lines. The lines are jigged up and down in the water, either by hand or with machines.

Distant water vessels are generally between 80-100 meters long, whereas coastal vessels fall between 10-20 meters long. And while coastal vessels return to port to land their catch, distant water vessels often transfer their catch at sea to refrigerated cargo vessels so they can continue fishing.

Advances in technology are rapidly transforming our ability to generate new insights into fishing activity, and Global Fishing Watch seeks to make this information publicly available to those who need it. Transparency can help create a more accurate picture and understanding of the squid fishing effort in support of scientific research and management measures. With the right knowledge, we can ensure the sustainability of this important fishery.