The funding provides an extra $50,000 above the $150,000 announced in March this year to monitor and investigate the population decline of the species in northern Spencer Gulf.
It also brings the total Cuttlefish research commitment by State and Commonwealth Governments to more than $715,000, with the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) and Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) also supporting a number of Cuttlefish projects underway.
Minister for Fisheries Gail Gago said the government’s Cuttlefish Working Group had recently considered a number of options and recommended several new research priorities for the 2013 breeding season.
“There is no doubt that the issues facing Cuttlefish populations are complex, but there is also a clear commitment by all levels of Government and the wider community to respond to and address the species decline,” Ms Gago said.
“The Cuttlefish Working Group has investigated a number of potential research opportunities and designed a research plan that will improve available knowledge of Giant Cuttlefish populations and help inform decisions about future management measures.”
The major research initiatives planned for 2013 include:
Continued monitoring of the breeding aggregation in northern Spencer Gulf to monitor population numbers, water quality and habitat condition.
Investigation and assessment of potential alternative Cuttlefish spawning areas within northern Spencer Gulf.
Research to characterise habitat preferred by Cuttlefish when laying eggs, to inform future research into the scope for artificial habitat to be used to help promote stock recovery and potential scope for stock enhancement.
These projects will be carried out in collaboration with FRDC, which is also funding a study into the movement patterns and population structure of Giant Cuttlefish in northern Spencer Gulf, including an evaluation of any environmental and human impacts that could be causing the population decline in northern Spencer Gulf.
University of Adelaide researchers have also been successful in gaining $150 000 in funding from DSEWPaC to investigate the potential impacts of shipping on Giant Australian Cuttlefish in response to expected increases in shipping in the Spencer Gulf region.
With research continuing, Ms Gago encourages visitors to the area to exercise care during the breeding season, which typically takes place between May and September each year.
“Given the declining status of the Point Lowly population, I urge all visitors to the area to exercise care and caution in their interactions with the Cuttlefish breeding aggregations and to be mindful to ensure any human interactions do not disturb the animals during this sensitive period of their annual breeding cycle,” Ms Gago said.
State Government funding has been contributed by Primary Industries and Regions SA, the Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.
Fishers are also reminded that a temporary closure to all fishing for Cuttlefish is currently in place in northern Spencer Gulf until March 2014. The closure includes all waters north of a line commencing near Arno Bay on Eyre Peninsula to Wallaroo on the Yorke Peninsula.