THE GIANT CALAMAR FISHERY

The giant squid ( Dosidicus gigas ) is a cephalopod endemic to the eastern region of the Pacific Ocean. Its geographical distribution range is from California in the United States (40 ° N) to southern Chile (52 ° S), between the surface and 1,200 meters deep. It is one of the largest species (2.5 meters maximum length and 50 kg maximum weight) and the most abundant in the world. It has a wide temperature tolerance, being able to be found between 15 to 28 ° C in surface waters (even up to 30-32 ° C in equatorial waters), while in deep waters it is close to 4 ° C (Nigmatullin et al. , 2001).

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It is characterized by rapid growth, early maturity and a life cycle of no more than approximately 2 years. However, these traits are highly variable with a strong dependence on environmental conditions, assuming that a combined impact of sea temperature and food availability would control growth rates and the beginning of maturity, thus defining longevity and maximum size. of this species (Argüelles & Tafur, 2010). Three intraspecific groups of giant squid have been identified in the Southeast Pacific based on their size at maturity (Nigmatullin et al. 2001); however, since no genetic differences have been found between the three proposed population subunits, it is still considered that they constitute a single stock (Xu et al. 2017).

Worldwide, Peru, China and Chile are responsible for the largest catches of this resource. Between 2013 and 2017, around 900 thousand tons of giant squid were landed in the world. Peru was responsible for 49%; China, 32% and Chile, 17%.

In Chile, from 2001 this resource increased its abundance, particularly in the central south of the country, an area where a series of fisheries of national importance is developed, such as common sardines, horse mackerel, anchovy and hake. In the following years, the presence of giant squid in national fishing grounds continued to increase and spread to fishing areas in the southern zone, increasing its importance as accompanying fauna of the hake trawl fisheries that develop in that area. After 2010, this resource is positioned as a fishery of great economic importance, a characteristic that it has maintained to date. The greatest contribution to extractive activity of the resource in the period 2000-2017 is made by the Bío Bío, Valparaíso and Coquimbo regions (SUBPESCA, 2018).

In Ecuador, the giant squid is distributed with greater abundance in the Gulf of Guayaquil and in less abundance off the coasts of Manabí and Esmeraldas. It is also distributed around the Galapagos Islands.

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In Mexico, the largest volume of giant squid is landed in the states of Baja California Sur, Sonora and Sinaloa, being caught mainly in the central region of the Gulf of California. The other state where giant squid have been caught on a frequent basis is Baja California. Currently, in this fishery there is a fleet of around 180 shrimp boats conditioned to fish for squid.

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In Peru, the giant squid is commonly found along the entire Peruvian coast, it is the second in terms of volume (PRODUCE, 2017). At the first marketing level, it is estimated that this fishery between 2013 and 2017 generated 153 million dollars annually for beach sales. Since October 2011, the giant squid fishery in Peru has been regulated by the 'Regulations for the Management of Giant Squid or Squid ( Dosidicus gigas )', approved by Supreme Decree No. 014-2011-PRODUCE (Produce 2011).

The value chain of the Peruvian squid is of great importance for the development of the country's fishing sector. However, it still has structural challenges to face and which today pose risks that do not provide the necessary stability to consolidate this activity. Some of these challenges are:

  • The delay in concluding the formalization processes of the artisanal fleet.

  • The update of the regulations for fisheries management (ROP) to adjust to the current form of extraction of the resource, both in national and international waters.

  • The need to adapt Peruvian artisanal vessels to the requirements of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO-PS) to carry out legal catches in international waters.

  • The need to develop key research to ensure the sustainability of the fishing stock and understand the structure of the stock in the Eastern Pacific, among others.

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