Let's start with Illex argentinus, the Argentinian shortfin squid with a history of contention between fishers from Argentina and the Falkland Islands. After a 2009 crash, Illex rebounded somewhat in 2010 (possibly due to shifting environmental conditions), but so far the catch from the Falklands this year isn't looking good:
Vessels fishing for the squid species Illex argentinus in Falklands waters have been reporting poor catches of around two and five ton per day so far this season, confirmed Falkland Islands Fisheries Scientist Alexander Arkhipkin . . .Note that it's currently summer down there. It seems a little worrisome that they're catching a lot of immature winter-spawning squid before they get the chance to reproduce . . .
He said, “Catches of Illex (according to the data from reporting trawlers) are small, varying between two and five ton per day. About half of the catch is composed of small and immature winter-spawning squid, with the rest of larger and mature summer-spawning squid."
In Argentina, the Illex fishing season just opened yesterday. It'll be interesting to see what they find.
Meanwhile, Illex's cousin Dosidicus, the ever-popular Humboldt squid, is being hammered on the other side of South America by Chinese fishing vessels:
China generates almost 80 per cent of the demand for the flying jumbo squid and has national teams available for both processing and production. They also have the neccessary technology and, above all, cheap and abundant labour.Yeah, I know I said Illex rebounded in 2010, but I also used the caveat "somewhat." Even though they caught more in 2010 than they did in 2009, the catch was still "far from that of previous years" according to FIS.
. . . Chinese companies have decided to move their fishing fleet from the South Atlantic to the Peruvian coast, where fishing for jumbo squid will allow them to produce the raw material (tubes with skin) in abundance.
There is also another element that favours the flying jumbo squid: a poor fishing season in 2010 and so far in 2011 for the Illex squid in the Atlantic.
So if the Illex fishing effort transfers to Dosidicus, I wonder how long before we see a crash in that fishery? Of course, the problem with squid is they're naturally highly variable even without human impacts . . . so when they crash, it's easy to point a finger at "environmental conditions" or "overfishing" but hard to prove it either way.