Saturday, December 03, 2022

Fishing ban reintroduced to protect iconic species

The South Australian government has re-imposed a ban on fishing for giant Australian cuttlefish in the Spencer Gulf north of Arno Bay and Wallaroo.

The closure means recreational and commercial fishers will no longer be able to catch the animals during their annual migration up the Spencer Gulf for their breeding season.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Clare Scriven said reinstating the ban was important to protect cuttlefish.

“After the ban was ceased the numbers went down to a seven-year low,” Ms Scriven said.

“Now we don’t want to see that happening, we don’t want to see that continue to happen so it was very important to reinstate the closure as soon as possible.

“It’s a good outcome for sustainability, it’s a good outcome for tourism and it’s a good use of an aquatic resource.”

Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin said reintroducing the ban would be a “game changer” for the local region, as the cuttlefish attract tourists.

“It allows the cuttlefish to make their way up to their aggregation area, just around Point Lowly, and protects them in that process,” she said.

Four Giant Australian Cuttlefish Are Seen Close Up At A Low Angle Under Water.  They Are Purple And Gray In Colour.
Giant Australian cuttlefish in the waters of Stoney Point, near Whyalla, in South Australia.,Supplied: Carl Charter,

“It’s iconic for our city, so it’s important we take care of it.”

Getting the ban back together

The ban was originally put in place in 2013 when the cuttlefish migration numbered just 13,000, down from 200,000 just a few years prior.

However, the ban was removed under the previous state government in 2020 when the population was about 240,000.

At the time, the then state government said the population had sufficiently recovered.

Ms Scriven said the ban would be in place until May 2023 but the government would look at how to make it permanent.

RecFish SA representative Alan Hall said he supported the ban but expressed concern that live-fire training by the military at the Cultana Training Ground could harm cuttlefish or interrupt their breeding cycle.

“I was out on the water the other day and I could literally feel the shock waves coming through the water when they were live-firing,” he said.

Small Waves Crash On A Rocky Shore Line, Factories And Industry Are In The Distance On The Horizon
Cuttlefish are drawn to the waters around stony point, near the industrial city of Whyalla. Looking across the shore, you wouldn’t know that over 120 thousand cuttlefish are swimming in the waters below.,ABC West Coast SA: Samantha Jonscher,

Member for Giles Eddie Hughes said while there was scientific evidence that shock waves could harm cuttlefish when they traveled through water, the study that reached this conclusion used cuttlefish in a tank rather than in the ocean.

“The study is not replicating what is happening here just near Whyalla but having said that I will ask the department if the South Australian Research and Development Institute has any concerns,” he said.

In a statement, Defense said it was committed to sustainable environmental management and that it undertook its planning to minimize environmental impact.


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