- Better Choice
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- Gould’s squid are caught in the Commonwealth SESSF Commonwealth Trawl Sector using demersal otter trawl and Danish seine fishing methods, and the Southern Squid Jig Fishery using unbaited jig fishing methods. The catch comes from coastal waters from NSW to western SA.
- Gould's squid is a fast growing, short-lived and quick to reproduce species, although reproduction varies according to environmental conditions.
- Gould’s squid populations are resilient to overfishing, and while poorly understood they are likely healthy under recent levels of fishing pressure.
- Squid jig fishing methods cause little no or impact to other species or marine habitats, and jig caught Gould's squid is a far more sustainable choice than squid caught using trawl methods in southeastern Australia.
Note: Squid jigging is a low impact, targeted method of fishing which has negligible bycatch and threatened species impacts. Choose jig caught Gould's squid over trawl-caught squid from southeastern Australian waters.
To ensure they remain tender, squid and calamari should be cooked hot and fast in a pan, deep fryer or on a barbecue. Simply score, sear, and serve! Scoring with a knife in a fine crosshatch pattern allows the heat to penetrate quickly and keeps the flesh tender. When frying squid, cook in small batches to ensure you don’t overload (and cool down) the pan, as this can result in rubbery stewed squid. Squid can also be slow cooked for hours in a sauce of tomato and wine for a delicious tender braise.
· Commonwealth Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Commonwealth Trawl Sector) and Southern Squid Jig Fishery (480t in 2020)
Gould’s squid is a fast growing, short-lived (around 12 months) species that reproduces quickly and produces a high number of offspring. Undertaking formal stock assessments (scientific assessments of the numbers of a species) of squid species is generally difficult for fishery managers, as reproduction is highly variable depending on environmental conditions. However, as recent catches of Gould’s squid have been low relative to historic levels that proved sustainable over a long period, managers have assessed that the species is not at risk from fishing activity.
Squid jigging is a low impact, highly targeted method of fishing that has little if any bycatch and impact on threatened species. Unbaited jigs are suspended from lines that make no contact with seafloor habitats. Lights are used to attract squid to the surface around fishing vessels. This makes jig-caught Gould’s squid a far more sustainable choice than trawl fishing; the impacts of which are described hereafter.
Gould’s squid are also caught as a byproduct species in fishing using bottom trawl and Danish seine net fishing methods in the Commonwealth-managed Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) targeting other finfish species. The SESSF is Australia’s largest source of locally caught finfish for the domestic market.
The fishery has made significant progress in reducing protected seabird bycatch, though fur seal bycatch is potentially increasing. Seal Excluder Devices (SEDs), which act as escape hatches for seals that enter trawl nets, are mandatory. All trawl boats must have a seabird management plan in place to guide how each boat aims to reduce interactions with seabirds while actively fishing. Many of the solutions to seabird interactions have been fishing industry-led innovations and are proving highly successful in reducing these impacts.
Most concerning is bycatch of a range of fishes which used to be primary or secondary target species of the fishery, that have been so severely overfished by the SESSF that they are now on the Australian Threatened, Endangered or Protected Species lists.
No Australian fishery has pushed more of its former target and secondary species onto our endangered species lists, and there is no evidence of recovery for most of these species. Special rebuilding strategies that allow these species to be caught and sold while holding this protected status are largely failing to deliver sufficient if any actual rebuilding.
Without major reform, AMCS expects more species caught by the SESSF to be placed on the Australian endangered species list than will recover off it in the foreseeable future.
At time of assessment the SESSF trawl fishery that catches Gould’s squid was likely to undergo an expensive taxpayer-funded bailout (for the second time since 2006) aimed at reducing the number of fishing vessels and closing part of the fishing grounds, because it is no longer possible for the fishery to catch targeted species while avoiding dangerously overfished species sufficiently to allow them to recover.
The SESSF operates around a global ocean heating hotspot, warming at almost four times the global average. While serious climate impacts have been attributed to declining SESSF fish stocks for around a decade, there is still no explicit consideration of climate impacts when setting future catch limits. Significant research is underway in this area, which is welcome but overdue.
There has been considerable investment in scientific research around the ecosystem and habitat impacts of the fishery, but this has not been supported by sufficient implementation of meaningful protections from fishing and climate-related impacts in the fishery, which have both been severe. Commonwealth waters marine parks are in place throughout the fishery but were designed primarily to avoid key fishing grounds, so confer little benefit. While marine parks should be a valuable and cost-effective tool for protecting vulnerable species and habitats; providing both resilience and a scientific resource to manage climate impacts; they (along with existing fishery area closures), protect only 0.9% of the most heavily fished habitat assemblage in the fishery. Improving marine park protection will be critical to addressing and rebuilding the future sustainability of the SESSF fishery.
Independent monitoring of the part of the SESSF that catches Gould’s squid has been insufficient to ensure robust information is collected on protected species bycatch and fish discarding, which can occur when fish are caught in trawl nets that the fisher holds no quota for, so cannot land without financial penalty. This creates significant risk as it impedes managers in reliably calculating the total impact (of all fishery mortality from retained plus the fish caught but thrown back) on fish stocks from the fishery. The fishery is set to introduce video monitoring across the fleet in 2024 which is welcome and could substantially address this issue, but it is notable that improving this information collection was also a condition of a fishery reform process in 2006 that was not followed through.