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Squid are awesome, colour changing creatures related to octopus and cuttlefish. They are a sustainable treat with white and slightly chewy but deicious meat, often referred to as Calamari. The tubular body is cut into squid rings or chunks and the whole animal including the tentacles can be eaten.

Sustainability Overview

Cornwall’s squid fishery is intermittent and small scale. Jig caught squid are the best choice. Squid stocks fluctuate naturally and some years large quantities are caught at quite random times through the year but largest quantities are caught in the late summer and autumn. Squid grow fast and produce large numbers of eggs so they are very resistant to fishing pressure. Take advantage of this boost in supply and try squid! The best choice is line caught squid, although trawl caught squid is sometimes also available. Most of the squid landed in Cornwall is exported. 

Updated October 2017

Sustainability ratings for this species

Demersal Trawl

Celtic Sea

Squid are targeted by demersal trawls using smaller mesh sizes during certain times of year. This is a less selective method than jigging and trawl gear has an impact on the seabed and some issues with bycatch of non target species.

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Handlining for squid with lures is also known as jigging. It is a selective low impact method that produces the finest quality fresh catch.

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How we rate fish

Cornwall Good Seafood Guide rates fish on sustainability using a scale of 1 to 5.

1, 2 and 3 are recommended, Fish to avoid are rated 5.

We use the system devised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) so our scores are comparable with the scores produced by MCS for the UK and fisheries from all around the world. For more information on scoring click here.


Squid are highly advanced predatory molluscs related to octopus and cuttlefish. They are short lived fast growing creatures. In Uk waters we find two main species of squid the Atlantic or long finned sqid Loligo forbesi and the European or common squid Loligo vulgaris. Both species grow no larger than 60cm in length although they are often larger than the imported squid often encountered in restaurants.  Squid have 8 arms and 2 longer tentacles which are used to capture their prey. Between December and May squid breed and lay large egg masses on the seabed. Squid will only live for 2 or3  years After laying eggs the females die and males may continue living until the next mating season. Because of this fast turnover squid are less vulnerable to fishing than many species (19% vulnerability score source sealife base).

Stock Info

Squid catches are not managed and there is no assessment of squid stocks. Their rapid growth and high reproductive rates mean that environmental factors are more important than fishing pressure to stocks. Squid fisheries in Cornwall are small scale and not likely to lead to over fishing.  


There is little or no management in place in squid fisheries. Stock assessment, and therefore quota management for squid, is difficult for several reasons, including lack of clear cohort structure within populations or stocks and high environmental influence on breeding and recruitment.

Capture Info

Squid are caught by jigging – where unbaited lures called pirks are used on handlines to catch squid, often at night time. This method of catching is selective and undersized catches can easily be returned unharmed. There is no problem with bycatch or damage to the seabed. 

Squid are caught as a welcome by-catch in demersal trawls fisheries around Cornwall. Demersal Trawls skim along the seabed. The foot rope at the front of the net runs along the seabed, disturbing fish and forcing them up into the belly of the net. Mesh sizes are set large to reduce unwanted bycatch of juvenile fish but this method does have problems with by-catch in some areas and times of year in a very mixed fishery.  Use of square mesh panels and lower head ropes make the gear more selective and many Cornish fishermen are trialling improved gear. There are no problems with bycatch of cetaceans and seals with this method, but this fishing method does pose a threat to rare species of sharks and rays such as Angel sharks and Longnosed skate.


WGCEPH report ICES 2019
WGCEPH report ICES 2018
Seafish RASS Squid in Celtic Sea and English Channel
Pierce et al 2009, ‘Squid fishing in UK waters’ report for Seafish Industry Authority, Aberdeen University

Recipes for Squid

Where to buy

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