Cuttlefish at record high numbers in SA

Record high numbers of Giant Australian Cuttlefish have been recorded at Point Lowly, near Whyalla, in the 2020 scientific population survey released today.

The latest annual survey conducted by South Australian Research Development Institute (SARDI) in June – to coincide with the peak spawning period – found numbers had more than doubled from 2019, with the population size estimated at 247,146.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham welcomed the positive result for the iconic species noting it reflected how seriously the Marshall Liberal Government takes fisheries management.

“This is fantastic news and a welcome reflection of how our government has used the best available scientific information to inform our decisions to ensure healthy fish stocks and benefit all South Australians,” said Minister Basham.

“Since 2013, the South Australian Government has contributed $860,000 of funding for SARDI research to ensure we understand as much as possible about this species and have adequate management in place.”

In 2013, with the population of Giant Australian Cuttlefish at alarmingly low numbers of just 13,492, two areas were closed to fishing. One was a permanent ban on fishing for all cephalopods (squid cuttlefish and octopus) at False Bay, while the other was a temporary closure of Northern Spencer Gulf.

The temporary fishing closure was introduced as a precautionary measure to ensure the cuttlefish population was not unnecessarily compromised while further scientific work was undertaken to determine what was causing the change in population.

With scientific research showing that recreational and commercial fishing has a negligible impact on the population if the False Bay closure is in place, the temporary ban on fishing lapsed on 15 February 2020.

Minister Basham said that the continued population growth since that time means that there were no longer sustainability concerns for the majestic Giant Australian Cuttlefish.

“This is wonderful news and should be celebrated by all South Australians and in particular the local Whyalla tourism industry who can expect to have another big year in 2021,” said Minister Basham.

“We have population data now which should give everyone confidence that this species has rebounded back to healthy levels.”

A cuttlefish working group continues to meet every year to discuss the latest science and stakeholder views.

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