Easy to up squid tonnage

LAST week I erred to mention that Gary Stephen’s 52kg cob was indeed released. It is preferred that only photographs of released fish be published in future. Most of the photos used to date have been of fish released, with the odd exception of course.

I am pleased to see the culture of releasing our catches is becoming more and more popular.

I salute these folk!

John Clarke’s picture is a prime example of how a photo should be taken of a fish should it be released.

Posing with a fish held by the gills is not a good idea as it can cause damage to its gills and spinal column.

John’s fish was caught at Paradise Beach in the same competition as Gary’s – about an hour later.

It shows that these awesome predators hunt in numbers. This coastline has produced a number of these size fish of late.

The squid industry appears to need a complete re-think. Catches are dwindling, as has been noted by the reduction in tonnage observed when these boats discharge their haul after their usual three-week trips to sea. This is bearing in mind that there are no restrictions to quotas and therefore boats can return with capacity.

This fishery is supposed to be sustainable due to the nature of the breeding cycle and the closed season that protects the spawn (in November).

However, there has been an impact and I believe that habitat destruction has taken place due to the heavy anchors used by these vessels that damage the reefs where the egg beds are established.

The squid eggs are disturbed by these anchors and the size of the hatch is effectively reduced.

A while back the squid fishery was a daytime activity, only undertaken by ski boats with smaller anchors and the catches were delivered daily on dry ice and not processed at sea.

The demand for quality and the discovery of the European market created the need for the squid to be processed at sea and this being a 24/7 scenario.

At night lights are deployed to extend the fishing hours. All these techniques place more pressure on the stocks.

This demand has resulted in the manufacture of bigger craft with good facilities and processing capabilities.

These larger craft now stay at sea for extended periods and have to be equipped for inclement weather.

The need for much larger anchors with some vessels deploying two anchors has caused habitat destruction, impacting areas that are the ideal egg beds. This has been noticed by smaller catches.

It is believed the closed season should be increased or the number of fishing days reduced, allowing stocks to recover. Their recovery can be quite rapid if managed properly. Simply put, we need to allow nature time to do its thing.

The possible closure of certain areas might also be the answer. The creation of a rotational plan could also be considered. The short life cycle of the squid (about eighteen months) means these areas need not be closed indefinitely, but merely rested.

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