Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Gail Gago said a recently commenced study is investigating the potential impacts of noise and turbidity from shipping traffic on the animal.
“The University of Adelaide has received funding of A$150,000 from the Australian Government’s Sustainable Regional Development program for the study,” Ms Gago said.
The various projects commenced during the 2013 breeding season – made possible with State and Federal Government funding of A$715,000 – and being undertaken by the South Australian Research and Development Institute, the University of Adelaide and Environment Protection Authority include: the continued monitoring breeding aggregation population; investigation and assessment of potential alternative spawning areas in the region; research on preferred egg-laying habitat, and a further study on movement patterns and population structure.
Preliminary results of the 2013 population survey indicate an aggregation of approximately 13,500 animals at the renowned Point Lowly site, which is a 27 per cent decline in the population from 2012. The results show a slower pace in the decline compared to an estimated 64 per cent between 2010 and 2011 and 52 per cent between 2011 and 2012.
Minister Gago said while the level of decline had slowed it remained a concern, reinforcing the government’s commitment to research and management measures to protect the species.
"This year's surveys have revealed an estimated biomass of 6.8 tonnes of Giant Cuttlefish gathered at the Point Lowly site during the 2013 spawning season," Ms Gago said.
"Research to date had been unable to pinpoint an exact cause for the decline, but work will continue on a range of research projects to investigate and assist the government in making informed decisions for the future protection and recovery of the species.
"As a precautionary measure, a number of fisheries management changes have also been implemented to further protect the species, including the temporary closure to fishing for all cuttlefish in northern Spencer Gulf which was introduced in March this year."
Minister Gago said the short and long-term research projects were identified by the Giant Cuttlefish Working Group to help address significant gaps in knowledge of the population in northern Spencer Gulf.
Community members can continue to assist in the research by helping to monitor and report sightings of Giant Cuttlefish via the Redmap website www.redmap.org.au or the Conservation Council SA's Feral or in Peril Program at www.conservationsa.org.au/feral-or-in-peril
A$515,000 in research funding has been granted by the Australian Government through the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and Department for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities this year to improve knowledge on changes in and impacts on Giant Cuttlefish populations.
The State Government’s research commitment of A$200,000 has been contributed by Primary Industries and Regions South Australia, the Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.