The Giant Australian Cuttlefish spawning population at Point Lowly near Whyalla remains healthy, with numbers increasing 20 per cent in the past year.
Researchers from the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), the research division of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia, have completed their annual population survey of the only known dense aggregation of spawning Giant Australian Cuttlefish in the world.
PIRSA’s Executive Director Fisheries and Aquaculture, Sean Sloan, said this year’s results show the Cuttlefish population’s remarkable capacity to rebound from the low levels.
“The increase in Cuttlefish numbers is excellent news, and the State Government will maintain a temporary fishing closure for another 12 months to further protect this iconic species,” Mr Sloan said.
“Under the State Government's management of Giant Australian Cuttlefish, a fishing closure for Cuttlefish in northern Spencer Gulf is now in place until 15 February 2020.
“This extends to all waters north of Arno Bay on the Eyre Peninsula to Wallaroo on the Yorke Peninsula.”
Recreational and commercial fishers are prohibited from taking or targeting Giant Australian Cuttlefish during the closure. The temporary closure is in addition to a permanent cephalopod (squid, cuttlefish and octopus) fishing closure in the waters of False Bay.
Dr Mike Steer, Senior Research Scientist at SARDI, said the 2018 survey results show the annual estimate of Giant Australian Cuttlefish abundance had increased from 124,992 individuals in 2017 to 150,408 in 2018.
“This is only 17 per cent less than the peak estimate of 182,585 individuals in 1999,”
Dr Steer said.
“Our research indicates that the population remains strong in comparison to previous years and has sufficiently recovered since the decline in 2013.
“It’s also great that there is increased tourism interest in the Cuttlefish at Point Lowly with visitors respecting the ‘look-but-don’t-touch’ protocols to ensure the Cuttlefish are not disturbed while they are breeding.”
Each winter, tens of thousands of Giant Australian Cuttlefish aggregate on a discrete area of rocky reef in northern Spencer Gulf to spawn.
In July 2012, a working group was established to coordinate a response to concerns about the decline in population, with subsequent protection of Giant Australian Cuttlefish commencing in March 2013.