Maine Seafood Guide - Squid


species description | season | status | regulatory authority |
harvest method | recreational harvest | health benefits & risks | 

buying & preparing | brands | certifications | links 

Species Description

Longfin squid Loligo pealei
Shortfin squid Illex illecebrosus
also known as loligo, calamari

Squids are invertebrate mollusks, in the same class as octopus, cuttlefish, and nautilus. They can squirt a cloud of black ink when bothered, and change color to blend in with their surroundings. Their large eyes allow for sharp vision in light and darkness. Squid are a major source of food for other marine animals including bluefish, swordfish, sea ravens, flounder, tuna, sea birds, whales, dolphins, and seals.

Longfin squid, the kind fished commercially and sold as “calamari,” move into shallow waters around Cape Cod and southern Gulf of Maine in spring with schools of butterfish, scup, and whiting. Longfin squid can grow up to two feet long, and they crush and eat food with bird-like beaks.

Shortfin or summer squid are used primarily for bait.

Year-round (inshore spring through early fall and offshore during the rest of the year).
>back to top

Status (see the About page for definitions)
Longfin squid is not overfished but the sustainability of the current fishing rate is unknown.
Shortfin squid status is unknown but overfishing is not thought to be occurring. Squid can handle relatively high fishing pressure because the entire population replaces itself about every six months.

>back to top

Regulatory Authority
Managed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council as part of the Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish plan.
>back to top

Harvest Method
Small-mesh bottom trawls. Coastal pound nets and fish traps are used in spring and summer when the squid migrate inshore to spawn. This is primarily a southern New England fishery.
>back to top

Recreational Harvest
Try the gear known as a “squid rig.”
>back to top

Health Benefits & Risks
Squid are low-fat and low-calorie, and are an excellent source of selenium and vitamin B12 and contain a moderate amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Squid are short-lived and low in mercury.
>back to top

Buying & Preparing
Squid are usually sold gutted and cleaned, and may or may not have tentacles. For whole squid, see “How to clean a squid” a video from Portland’s Harbor Fish Market for information on what to look for when buying and preparing fresh squid.
>back to top

Companies, Brands, and Labels
>back to top

Certifications & Verifications
>back to top


Squid Fingers: More about squid and their fascinating reproductive habits.
>back to top


species description | season | status | harvest method | recreational harvest
health benefits & risks | 
buying & preparing | brands certifications | links