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Longfin Inshore Squid

Doryteuthis (Amerigo) pealeii

Longfin Squid illustration

Also Known As

  • Longfin inshore squid
  • Loligo
  • Winter squid
  • Boston squid

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

Population

Above target population level.

Fishing Rate

Harvest quotas are trimester-based to ensure that it is fished at the recommended level.

Habitat Impacts

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

Bycatch

Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.

  • Availability

    Year-round.

  • Source

    U.S. wild-caught from Southern Massachusetts to North Carolina.

  • Taste

    Mild and slightly sweet.

  • Texture

    Firm.

  • Color

    Raw squid is ivory colored with a speckled membrane. Cooked squid is opaque white.

  • Health Benefits

    Squid are an excellent source of selenium, riboflavin, and vitamin B12.

The U.S. Fishery

Fishery 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 trimester allocations. 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.

Harvest

  • In 2019, commercial landings totaled more than 27 million pounds, and were valued at approximately $43 million, according to the NOAA Fisheries commercial fishing landings database
  • Fisheries for longfin squid reflect the species’ seasonal migrations.
  • The majority of landings come from Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.
  • Harvested for bait since the late 1800s, longfin squid have been harvested since the mid-1960’s for their mild, sweet meat.
  • Gear types, habitat impacts, and bycatch:
    • The majority of longfin squid is harvested year-round using small-mesh bottom trawls. There are now only a few fishermen that use pound nets and fish traps during the spring and early summer when squid migrate inshore.
    • 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 shark, ray, and tuna species. Finfish such as butterfish, hakes, Illex squid, fluke, herring, spiny dogfish, and Atlantic mackerel are also incidentally caught in this fishery.
    • Measures to prevent or minimize bycatch include:
      • Bycatch cap for butterfish caught in the longfin fishery.
      • Minimum mesh size requirements for bottom trawl nets, but bycatch escapement is very limited because the codend mesh sizes are very small (1 7/8 in. during Trimester 2 and 2 1/8 in. during Trimesters 1 and 3) and are covered by an additional layer of mesh called a strengthener.
      • 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.

The Science

Population Status

  • The species has a lifespan of less than one year. According to the 2020 stock assessment, longfin squid are not overfished. There is currently not enough information to determine whether the stock is subject to overfishing. Summary stock assessment information can be found on Stock SMART.

Location

  • 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.

Habitat

  • Adults live over mud or sand/mud substrates of the continental shelf and upper continental slope in waters as deep as 1,300 feet.
  • Adults and juveniles migrate vertically in the water column, remaining near the seabed during the day and moving toward the surface at night. 
  • North of Cape Hatteras, squid migrate seasonally—offshore during late autumn to spend the winter in warmer waters along the shelf edge and slope, and back inshore during the spring where they remain until late autumn.
  • Squid egg masses are attached to rocks and small boulders or aquatic vegetation and on sandy bottoms.
  • Paralarvae are found in surface waters. Juveniles also live in the upper water column in water 165 to 1,650 feet deep.

Physical Description

  • 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.  

Biology

  • 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 six to eight 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 ova, or sperm is stored for later use. 
  • The female lays fertilized egg capsules that contain about 150 to 200 eggs each in clusters attached to 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. 

Last updated: 01/08/2021