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Status of the Market Squid Fishery with Recommendations for a Conservation and Management Plan

Report to the California State Legislature, May 1, 2001

Executive Summary

In 1997, the Legislature approved Senate Bill 364 (Sher), Chapter 785, Statutes of 1997 to establish a moratorium on California's commercial market squid fishery. The initial three-year moratorium placed a cap on the number of vessels in the squid fishery, established a $2,500 permit fee to fund a California Department of Fish and Wildlife study of the fishery and provided the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) with interim regulatory authority over the fishery for the duration of the moratorium. This interim fishery management program generated approximately $2 million which was directed into squid fishery research, management, enforcement and related activities. As part of this process, a Squid Fishery Advisory Committee, made up of resource stakeholders, and a Squid Research Scientific Committee, consisting of many of the world's leading squid fishery scientists, were established and utilized to advise the director on recommendations for squid conservation and management and to provide input on the development of research protocols.

By April 2001, CDFW is required to submit a report to the Legislature pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 8426 which states in part:

(c) The director shall hold public hearings to take testimony on interim measures, squid research needs, and the development of the management recommendations to be included in the report to the Legislature. Notwithstanding Section 7550.5 of the Government Code, on or before April 1, 2001, in consultation with the Squid Fishery Advisory Committee, if established, and following public hearings, the director shall submit to the Legislature a report on the status of the market squid fishery with recommendations for a market squid conservation and management plan, including, but not limited to, the following information:

  1. Whether a limited access plan to manage the amount of fishing effort in the market squid fishery is necessary and, if so, what criteria should be used to determine who may participate in the fishery, what the optimum number of vessels should be in the fishery, and the overall fleet capacity.

  2. Whether it is necessary or advisable to reduce the number of days of the week that market squid may be taken for commercial purposes in specified areas of the state to protect the squid resource.

  3. Whether there are areas, if any, that should be declared harvest replenishment areas for squid where the taking of squid would not be permitted.

  4. A research and monitoring program of the market squid resource as may be needed to assist in the management of the market squid fishery to assure sustainable harvests on an annual basis and funding for that program.

  5. The regulation of squid light boats.

  6. Coordination that may be necessary with a federal coastal pelagic species management plan, should one be adopted.

  7. Whether it is necessary or advisable to modify the method of take or the use of fishing gear.

This report and the management recommendations contained herein constitute fulfillment of CDFW's statutory reporting requirement. Based on precautionary principles of resource management and utilizing the best science available, CDFW recommends the following:

  1. Establish a limited entry program that will significantly reduce the number of currently permitted vessels to reduce excess fleet capacity. In addition, establish a fleet capacity goal and the mechanisms to achieve that goal (initial permit issuance, criteria and permit transferability guidelines).

  2. Maintain existing regulations that limit the days of the week squid may be taken through weekend closures.

  3. No specific squid replenishment (no fishing areas) be established as several broader context processes are currently taking place which may establish some additional protected areas.

  4. Maintain a research and monitoring program to assist in management of the squid fishery to achieve sustainability and establish a fee structure supportive of the management approach selected.

  5. Establish a limited entry program for light boats similar to the limited entry program for harvesting vessels.

  6. Maintain existing regulations of light wattage restrictions and light shields to minimize potential ecosystem interactions.

  7. Enact a seasonal statewide catch limitation and a vessel daily trip limit.

  8. Delegate permanent management authority of the California market squid fishery to the Fish and Game Commission.

  9. Establish a single squid fishery advisory committee composed of industry, science, and environmental community members.

  10. Establish a squid management evaluation schedule not to exceed two years.

The above recommendations have been developed to coordinate with provisions contained in the Federal Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery Management Plan.

Summary of Department Squid Management Recommendations

Rulemaking authority

CDFW recommends that the Legislature permanently delegate squid fishery management authority to the Fish and Game Commission, as it has demonstrated an ability to respond quickly to real-time needs and changes in the fishery during the interim period. This is also consistent with the Marine Life Management Act.

Limited entry

CDFW recommends implementing a restricted access program for the market squid fishery in order to maintain the long-term economic viability of the fishery which matches the level of effort to the health of the resource, and promotes conservation among participants. Three major components of a limited entry program have been identified, and recommendations have been provided on a fleet capacity goal, initial issuance criteria, and guidelines for permit transferability.

  • Capacity goal - CDFW recommends a moderately productive and specialized fleet capacity goal of 52 vessels and 52 light boats. These goals are within the range of the number of vessels actively participating in the fishery in a given year. Based on similar criteria used for evaluating the vessel and light boat capacity goal options, CDFW recommends a capacity goal of 18 brail vessels. Although this is larger than the currently active fleet size, it provides adequate insurance against unlimited expansion of this component of the fishery.

  • Initial issuance criteria - CDFW recommends establishing initial issuance criteria based on prior catch history in the squid fishery for participants wishing to apply for market squid vessel, light and brail permits in future years. Furthermore, CDFW recommends establishing both transferable and non-transferable categories for vessel and brail permits.

    Permit Type Recommended Initial Issuance Criteria Anticipated Number of Qualifying Vessels
    Market Squid Vessel Permit Possession of a valid 2000/01 market squid permit; 50 market squid landings between January 1, 1990, and November 12, 1999 OR Have possessed a California commercial fishing license for 20 years with one season of participation in the squid fishery, defined as making 33 landings or more in that season. 82
    Market Squid Vessel Permit
    Does not possess a current market squid permit; a 20-year CA commercial fishermen with one season of participation in the squid fishery, defined as making 33 landings or more in that season. Unknown
    Market Squid Brail Permit Possession of a valid 2000/01 market squid permit; have made 10 brail landings during the time period January 1, 1990, through November 12, 1999 OR Have possessed a California commercial fishing license for at least 20 years, and have participated in the squid brail fishery for at least one of those seasons, defined as having made 10 brail landings in one season. 20
    Market Squid Brail Permit
    Does not possess a current market squid permit; a 20-year CA commercial fishermen with one season of participation in the squid brail fishery, defined as making 10 brail landings in one season. Unknown
    Market Squid Light Boat The participant must 1) possess either a current market squid light boat permit OR a market squid vessel permit AND 2) have submitted one light boat log by December 31, 2000 OR May or may not possess a current market squid permit, but have possessed a California commercial fishing license for at least 20 years, and have participated in the squid light boat fishery for at least one of those seasons, defined by submission of proof of light boat participation amounting to 33 days of activity via receipts or other appropriate evidence. 53
  • Transferability - CDFW recommends full transferability of vessel permits only between vessels of comparable capacity to allow for improvements in vessel safety and technology without increasing the harvesting capability of the fleet. Transferability to a vessel of larger capacity under a >2 for 1' or >3 for 1' permit retirement is recommended to allow vessel owners to increase their vessel capacity by transferring their permit to a replacement boat and surrendering one or two additional permits from the fleet depending on the size of the new vessel. This will accommodate the working needs of the fleet and should aid in achieving the capacity goal. Furthermore, CDFW recommends full transferability of brail permits, and once a 52-vessel light boat capacity goal is realized, full transferability of light boat permits. Until that time, CDFW recommends a >2 for 1' transferability provision for light boats.

Catch limitations

CDFW recommends placing catch limitations which serve to prevent expansion in the volume of the current fishery, to limit future participation by vessels of a significantly larger size, and to prevent current vessels from increasing catch volume on a per-trip basis should market-imposed trip limits be dissolved or technological developments allow for increased efficiency.

  • Daily trip limits - CDFW recommends a 60-short ton trip limit for roundhaul vessels and a 15-short ton trip limit on brail landings. Roundhaul limits are based on historical catch information indicating only 2.3 percent of landings made are in volumes of 60 short tons or greater. Brail limits are based on maximum volumes landed using brail gear in recent years. Furthermore, the brail limit is aimed to reduce the incentive for these vessels to develop more efficient methods of operation or expanded hold capacities which could change the overall catch contribution made by this small component of the fishery.

  • Seasonal landings limits - CDFW recommends a seasonal landings limit of 125,000 short tons to curtail overall volumetric growth of the fishery.

Area closures

CDFW recommends continued evaluation and identification of appropriate squid harvest replenishment areas as a future tool for resource protection. Given other reserve establishment processes in progress at the state and federal level, CDFW does not recommend any specific closure areas for squid replenishment at this time. Furthermore, CDFW recommends continued evaluation and consideration of area closures as a measure to mitigate possible/potential fishery impacts to the environment.

Fee structure

CDFW recommends implementing an annual fee for market squid vessel, light and brail permits sufficient enough to support the selected squid management program. Additionally, we recommend a transfer fee of $1000 be levied should a permit owner request a permit to be transferred.

Time closures (weekend closure regulations)

CDFW recommends continuing this interim measure in the spirit of precautionary management. In the absence of conclusive biological information upon which to base a quota or other management approach, a two-day per week time period allows for uninterrupted spawning in areas where squid are present. Unlike a seasonal quota or seasonal closure, this measure spreads the escapement out throughout the year, rather than concentrating it at the beginning or end. Prohibiting fishing activity on weekends may also help alleviate conflict with other interest groups operating in the same areas.

Gear restrictions

CDFW recommends continuing the existing wattage and shielding regulations enacted to mitigate potential light impacts on nesting seabirds and coastal communities. Additionally, CDFW supports continued study and exploration in the use of alternative fishing methods, such as underwater lights, which may be less invasive. Furthermore, CDFW urges the development of additional gear restrictions such as limitations on mesh or net size based on information collected in field studies, logbooks, or from bycatch or other information available from port sampling efforts.

Research and monitoring program

CDFW recommends continuing the existing squid research and monitoring program, including fishery-dependent sampling efforts conducted at ports statewide, required logbooks for all permitted vessels participating in commercial squid fishing activity, ongoing monitoring of catch information and continuation of independent research contracts, especially those focused on developing management models.

Advisory committee structure

CDFW recommends establishing a joint industry/science committee comprised of no more than 12 individuals. The committee will serve to review and develop squid fishery management options and evaluate research needs and objectives.

Re-evaluation schedule

CDFW recommends a thorough review of the adopted management measures in two years to evaluate the status of the resource and fishery under the new management framework, progress of attaining capacity goals, and permit fees.

Marine Region (Region 7)
Regional Manager: Craig Shuman
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Market Squid Fishery