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Giant Cuttlefish closure until March 2014

3 April 2013

Until 27 March 2014, taking cuttlefish from the northern Spencer Gulf from will be prohibited.

The protection measures for the Giant Cuttlefish have been extended while additional research into the population decline of the species at Point Lowly continues.

This temporary fishing closure builds on existing closures that the State Government put in place around Point Lowly in 1998.

The changes are subject to annual review.

The closure only applies to the targeting and take of cuttlefish, which means that outside of the existing False Bay closure, fishers can continue to fish for squid and octopus.

Any cuttlefish inadvertently caught must be immediately and carefully returned to the water.

Recent research and monitoring undertaken by SARDI to uncover the reason for a possible 90 per cent decline in Giant Cuttlefish numbers at Point Lowly was inconclusive.

The Giant Cuttlefish is an elusive species and little is known about its movement and migration patterns.

Cuttlefish could be aggregating in another area, or the population peaks being compared with today’s counts could have been an extraordinary event.

The State Government is committing $150,000 to look at continuing this monitoring and to investigate the potential use of artificial reefs to support the species.

This new research project, funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), will help to determine the movement patterns and population structure of the Giant Cuttlefish in the Upper Spencer Gulf, as well as evaluate any environmental and human impacts that could be causing the species decline.

This information will be critical to informing future management measures by helping to reduce the risk of factors contributing to the change in abundance and distribution of the species.

The project, which commenced this month, will be led by the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), in partnership with the SA Museum, PIRSA and DEWNR.

A working group on cuttlefish that had been established last year was continuing to address the issues associated with the population decline.

The working group is to be expanded to formally include the Whyalla City Council and the Conservation Council of South Australia.

The Chief Executive of the Conservation Council Tim Kelly has commended the State Government for this additional protection in the lead up to the annual breeding aggregation which should begin in around just eight weeks.

“With the population of Giant Australian Cuttlefish in the Upper Spencer Gulf at dangerously low numbers it is essential that every cuttlefish be given the best chance for successful breeding in 2013,” Mr Kelly said.

Members of the public are asked to help monitor the area and report sightings of Giant Cuttlefish in areas where they previously may not have been seen to help monitor their movement and aggregation via the Redmap website  ww.redmap.org.au

For more information about the northern Spencer Gulf fishing closure visit:

http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/?a=171547

A copy of SARDI’s research findings can be found at:
http://www.sardi.sa.gov.au/fisheries/publications/2013_publications

Giant Australian Cuttlefish