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When squid were 'almost jumping into the fishing boats' in N.S.

A surplus of squid was supposed to be a good thing for Nova Scotia fishermen. But only if they could sell off all of their catch.

Surplus of squid left Canadian fishermen hoping to sell that surprise catch to Japanese consumers

A surplus of squid in N.S.

42 years ago
1:50
Nova Scotia fishermen were frustrated that they caught more squid than they were able to sell. 1:50

A surplus of squid was supposed to be a good thing for Nova Scotia fishermen.

But in 1979, they found themselves with too much squid on their boats and not enough opportunity to sell it.

"Squid have been so plentiful along our east coast recently, they're almost jumping into the fishing boats," the CBC's Bob Allison explained on The National on Oct. 26, 1979.

"The Japanese eat enormous quantities of squid and our fishermen want to cash in on a market which hardly exists in Canada."

Allison said the federal fisheries ministry had urged the fishermen to do that, while fish processors signalled they would buy all that those fishermen could catch.

'The processors are overloaded'

Some fishermen who were fed up with the situation involving their captured squid poured part of their catch back into the sea to demonstrate their upset. (The National/CBC Archives)

And with that apparent demand, the fishermen started hauling in a lot of squid, though a changing market meant they weren't able to unload it as expected.

"Suddenly, the world market has become glutted, the processors are overloaded and the fishermen's union is crying foul," said Allison.

That's because the fishermen weren't being permitted to sell directly to Japanese buyers, as that would undercut those Canadian processors.

Some fed-up fishermen, in fact, dumped some of their catch back into the ocean — in front of a TV camera, of course — to demonstrate their frustration with the situation.

'A funny animal'

Nova Scotia fishermen were able to catch much more squid than usual in 1979. (The National/CBC Archives)

Fisherman Doug Smith explained to The National that squid weren't something he and his fellow fishermen would expect to haul in all the time.

"Squid's a funny animal," Smith said when speaking to CBC News in Sambro Creek, N.S., nothing there could be "millions of squid around" one year and hardly any the next. 

"They come and go like the weather," he said.

Smith wasn't impressed with the position the fishermen had been left in, having caught so much squid and then confronting barriers to selling it.

"While Japanese fishermen quietly transfer frozen blocks of squid to freighters, the argument among the processors, government and fishermen rages on," Allison said at the close of his report.

"And it probably won't go away until the squid do."

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