Smart Seafood from our Backyard: California Market Squid

California Market Squid hits close to home. The fishery is in our backyard and fishing is quite sustainable.
Photo courtesy of UCSD

There are more than 300 species of squid. Most produce ink. It’s a paint-by-number grayscale spectacular.

But when you move from the craft table to the dining table, your head count goes down to two.

The most popularly served squid is one of two species: Illex, also known as Toradores, found in the Atlantic Ocean, and Market Squid, Doryteuthis (Loligo) opalescens, found in the Pacific Ocean.

California Market Squid hits close to home. The fishery is in our backyard and fishing is quite sustainable.
Photo courtesy of NOAA

California Market Squid hits close to home for several reasons.

First, the fishery is in our backyard, centered in the nearshore waters of California, concentrated in Central California around Monterey Bay and extending down to Southern California, including the Channel Islands. Big backyard.


Secondly, squid fishing is the poster child for smart seafood and sustainability. Squid have a short life cycle (six to nine months) and reproduce more frequently than their edible ocean brethren. They replenish their stocks often, with each squid laying thousands of eggs. Fisherman target spawning squid because they die shortly after reproducing.


Even without fishing, the entire population of California Market Squid replaces itself annually. As such, the fishery operates year-round with a two-day per week closure, which starts Fridays at noon, allowing squid extra time to reproduce just before dying naturally as part of their circle of life. Lighted boats are used to attract squid and make them easier to catch in nets. Catch limits do apply.

It’s important to ensure that fishermen capture squid that have already spawned, as that’s the key to the production of the next generation of squid and the future health of the squid population.

Under the Hood

Market squid are members of the mollusk family known as cephalopods, which is Greek, meaning foot-on-head. They have eight arms and two tentacles that extend from the ends of their bodies to where their mouths are located. They have a mixed, iridescent coloration of milky white and purple, and their coloring can change in response to environmental conditions. That’s where the ink comes in (out?) too.


California Market Squid features meat that is mild, nutty, subtly sweet and delicate. We cook it fresh, most popularly as crisp calamari. Find it on our menus here.


Learn More About the Fisheries Management

NOAA Fisheries

Pacific Fishery Management Council

California Department of Fish and Wildlife  

Published on
April 28, 2023
Joel Kennedy

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