BY midweek Falkland Islands Government Fisheries Operations (FISHOPS) had cleared 36 of the 105 jiggers that will take up Falkland Islands fishing licences to fish for illex squid this season, which will run from February 15 to June 15.

Image: Jiggers in Stanley Harbour – library picture

Penguin News invited Member of Legislative Assembly Teslyn Barkman who holds the portfolio for Fisheries to comment on the up coming season:

“It’s a good start with reports of healthy catches on the high seas. Ilex can always be a bit trickier to predict as the squid immigrates in to our zone in groups but I’m feeling positive from the early news,” she said.

MLA Barkman added: “It’s worth noting the exceptional amount of work that the illex industry, Daniel Wood our FIG Maritime Programme Director, and the Department of Natural Resources undertook to get ready for this season. After the detention of a vessel last year it was obvious more preparation and communication was needed. The fleet took on the work programme and improvements necessary to ensure they are compliant with our Maritime obligations, and a new licencing procedure was built which further supports the standards of our Port State Authority.”

She said: “Personally, to look out at the harbour and see rescue boats in the fleet is a great thing and I’ve heard positive reports from the licensing inspections too. To top it off, the illex fleet also had quarantine standards to fulfill as a result of the pandemic. It’s been an incredible effort by all involved to get the season underway.”

Most vessels steam directly from Taiwan and have been at sea for 31 days minimum.

Illex argentinus squid are fished principally by specialist squid jigging vessels from the Far East.

Falklands squid

Falklands waters are noted for their high productivity, and for the sustainable management of the fisheries. Squid usually account for around 75% of annual catches of some 200,000 tonnes, and are destined for markets in Europe and the Far East. The remainder of the catches consist of various finfish species including Rock Cod, Hake, Hoki and Toothfish.