BUENOS AIRES, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Environmental factors may be causing a dramatic drop in the number of squid being caught in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean, experts say.
In the first six months of 2010, the catch fell by 50.4 percent in the most important fishery area for this species, Inter Press Service reported Friday. Exports of squid, Argentina's second-largest fisheries export after hake, fell 68 percent by volume compared for the same period of 2007, driving prices up.
A number of factors may be affecting the short-lived species that is highly sensitive to changes in its habitat, environmentalists and scientists say.
"Squid is a resource that changes rapidly, and is subject to strong natural fluctuations that could be happening more frequently because of climate change," Guillermo Canete, marine program coordinator for the Argentine Wildlife Foundation, said.
Guillermo Jacob, head of the Bahia Grande fishing company, said this year his company fished half the amount it had caught in 2009, which in turn was only half as much as the 2008 catch.
Jacob blames the meager recent catches on natural changes that have led squid to search for cooler or deeper currents.
"Our fishing methods are sustainable and there is no great pressure on squid as a resource," he said.
"There are big differences in the catch from one year to another because the environmental conditions vary a lot."