Squid catches in the San Matías Gulf reached a record 5,535 tonnes, reports Río Negro Fisheries director, Italo Sangiulliano. This is a promising result for the local sector although it is nowhere near the 200,000 to 3000,000 tonne annual production of the two fisheries management units.
Local vessel owners are also pleased with the news that their catches are being exported to Asian markets at USD 1,300 per tonne, according to Río Negro Marine Biology Institute estimates. The excellent price is attributed to the increase in demand as a result of low catch volumes, which in turn prompted companies to hold back inventories in the hope of getting better prices.
Last year's San Matías Gulf squid fishery was a "total failure" because stocks were so low. But this year's total catch is more than double the previous record of 2,400 tonnes achieved in 2001.
The fact that this season was shaping up to be much better than last year's was reflected in the number of workers involved, with 50 crewmembers hired to work at sea and extra shore-based jobs at processing plants.
When the catch quotas were put out to tender, one of the requirements was that companies should hire local labour, said Mr Sangiuliano.
Six vessels were authorised to take part in the squid fishery which opened in the San Matías Gulf on 1 July and closed on 30 September.