Scuba Divers Federation of South Australia
Protecting the Giant cuttlefish aggregation
The Scuba Divers Federation of South Australia established and is hosting the Cuttlefish Alliance to bring together organisations and individuals concerned about protections for the Giant cuttlefish during its breeding season in the Upper Spencer Gulf.
In 2013, the population collapsed to only 13,000 individuals. A temporary fishing ban was put in place, and by 2020 the population had recovered to 247,000. The temporary ban was lifted; in 2021 the population fell precipitously to 107,000. A new temporary ban was instated in 2022. With that ban, the population recovered somewhat to 138,000. That ban is due to expire in March 2023. The SDFSA is calling for a permanent Cuttlefish fishing ban in the Upper Spencer Gulf during the migration and breeding season, between 1st May through to 31st July.
In 2020, we set up a Facebook page for the Cuttlefish Alliance to gather and share information, petitions, and campaigns to encourage PIRSA to reconsider restrictions on fishing for Giant Cuttlefish. An Advisory Committee was convened to prepare recommendations to take to PIRSA, based on science and the value of the Giant Cuttlefish migration to the economy of Whyalla and South Australia. Members of the Committee included representatives from Whyalla Council, the dive industry, Experiencing Marine Sanctuaries, SDFSA, and a scientist (cephalopod expert).
At the time, we noted the need to recognise the reality of multiple stakeholders and users of the marine environment, and considered that if a wholesale ban on Cuttlefish fishing was not possible, we might find a compromise — improved and consistent monitoring of cuttlefish populations, and enforced exclusion zones at certain times of year, especially during the mating/migration season.