Climate Variability & Marine Fisheries
Reduced Catches of Squid During El Niño Warming Events
Squid has become an increasingly important product in California. Landings have been increasing since the 1960s; however, we don't know if the population has actually been increasing in the warm period since 1976, or if the increased landings reflect increased fishing effort and markets for squid. This increase has been interrupted several times by major El Niño events that raise ocean surface temperatures along the California coast. Landings dropped markedly during the 1958, 1983-84, 1992, and 1998 El Niños. Squid are short lived, reproducing and then dying within 1 year. During El Niño events they are not found on their normal spawning grounds or farther north. They may be spawning in deeper colder water during these years. So far, the population has always recovered after the El Niño has passed.