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California Market Squid Achieves Marine Stewardship Council Certification for Sustainable Fishing

Twelve U.S. Companies are Leading the Way Globally in Sustainable Squid Harvesting

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) announced that California market squid (Loligo opalescens) has achieved MSC certification for sustainable fishing practices. This is the first squid species certified that is managed by the State of California.  

Nine companies comprise two certificates in the California market squid fishery: the first certificate, announced on July 28, includes companies Cal Marine Fish Company, Monterey Fish Company, Southern Cal Seafood, Southern Coast Trading, Neptune Foods, and J. DeLuca Fish Company; the second certificate includes companies Lund’s Fisheries Inc./Sun Coast Calamari, Del Mar Seafoods, and Silver Bay Seafoods and was announced on August 11. In 2018 and 2019 respectively Longfin squid (Doryteuthis (Amerigo) pealeii) and Northern shortfin squid (Illex illecebrosus) off the U.S. East Coast were certified.  

The MSC certification is a globally recognized standard for sustainable fishing, indicating that the California market squid fishery adheres to rigorous environmental and management criteria. Achieving and maintaining certification includes a comprehensive assessment of the fishery's impact on fish stocks and ecosystems, ensuring that the squid population is responsibly managed and harvested. Fisheries are assessed by a third party assessor and must undergo annual audits to ensure they continue to meet the MSC’s Fisheries Standard.  

“This achievement is a testament to the ongoing dedication of the California squid fishing industry in ensuring the long-term health of our ocean and preserving marine ecosystems,” said Nicole Condon, Marine Stewardship Council U.S. program director. “We are proud that US fisheries are leading the way on sustainable squid with the world’s only MSC certified squid fisheries. The first was certified in 2018 on the East Coast, and the California fishing industry is now more than doubling the volume of certified squid in the region.” 

California’s market squid fishery has a long history dating back to the late 1800s when sampan boats with torches attached to the bow were used to attract squid to the surface. The fishery still employs light-based techniques, utilizing specialized lights to attract squid to the surface at night. This targeted approach significantly reduces bycatch of non-target species and minimizes impact on the marine ecosystem.  

“We’re very pleased that California’s market squid fishery received this recognition,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Regional Manager Dr. Craig Shuman. “It demonstrates California’s leadership in sustainable fisheries management. With both squid and the recently certified pink shrimp fishery as examples, we look forward to seeing the additional commercial fisheries certified in the Golden State soon.” 

California market squid is a versatile seafood product cherished by chefs, consumers, and seafood enthusiasts alike. With its delicate flavor and tender texture, squid is a staple ingredient in diverse culinary traditions, from Mediterranean cuisine to Asian-inspired dishes. The California market squid product caters to both domestic and export markets for human consumption, with some product reserved for bait and aquaculture feed.  

As consumers increasingly seek out sustainable food choices, the MSC certification of California market squid signifies a significant milestone in the journey towards a more sustainable seafood industry. The efforts of the California squid fishing community serve as an inspiration for fisheries worldwide to adopt sustainable practices that ensure the longevity of our oceans and the prosperity of coastal communities.