Southern Calamari

Sepioteuthis australis

  • Timothy Emery (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Corey Green (Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Victoria)
  • Jeremy Lyle (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Karina Hall (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
  • Mike Steer (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Rocio Noriega (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)

You are currently viewing a report filtered by jurisdiction. View the full report.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
South Australia South Australia MSF, NZRLF, SAPF, SZRLF Sustainable Catch, effort, CPUE trends
Marine Scalefish Fishery (SA)
Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery (SA)
South Australian Prawn Fishery (SA)
Southern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery (SA)
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Stock Structure

The biological stock structure across the distributional range of Southern Calamari is complex and potentially dynamic. One study using allozyme markers identified three genetic types with overlapping distributions and possible stocks off Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania (data are not available for Victoria)1,2. In contrast, another study using microsatellite markers found little genetic differentiation between seven study sites in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania3. It also identified Tasmania as a possible important site for gene flow. Life history dynamics, and studies of movement and statolith microchemistry in Tasmania also suggest some localised biological stock structuring4.

In the absence of conclusive evidence on biological stock boundaries, here assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—Commonwealth, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

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Stock Status

South Australia

The most recent stock assessment for Southern Calamari12 in South Australia considered that the resource was being harvested within sustainable limits. Since this assessment, the state-wide commercial catch of Calamari has remained relatively high, consistently exceeding 350 t over the past 7 years. The recreational catch of Southern Calamari in South Australia continues to exceed that of other states, at an estimated 155 t in 2013–1413. Catch rates have remained relatively high in both the jig and the hauling net sectors of the fishery13, indicating that the biomass is unlikely to be recruitment overfished and the level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment overfished.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, Southern Calamari in South Australia is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Southern Calamari biology1,14,15

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Southern Calamari <1 year; 550 mm  ML, 3–4 kg 3–6 months; 150–200 mm  ML 
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Southern Calamari

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Fishing methods
South Australia
Squid Jigging
Dab Net
Haul Seine
Otter Trawl
Squid Jigging
Squid Jigging
Management methods
Method South Australia
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Bag limits
Bag limits
Active vessels
South Australia
216, 222 in MSF, 46 in SAPF, 6 in SASRLF
Marine Scalefish Fishery (SA)
South Australian Prawn Fishery (SA)
South Australian Southern Rock Lobster Fishery (SA)
South Australia
Commercial 370.49t in MSF, 22.56t in SAPF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 155 t (2013–14)
Marine Scalefish Fishery (SA)
South Australian Prawn Fishery (SA)

a Commonwealth – Recreational The Commonwealth Government does not manage recreational fishing. Recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the states or territory immediately adjacent to those waters, under their management regulations.
b Commonwealth – Indigenous The Commonwealth Government does not manage non-commercial Indigenous fishing (with the exception of the Torres Strait). In general, non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the states or territory immediately adjacent to those waters. In the Torres Strait both commercial and non-commercial Indigenous fishing is managed by the Torres Strait Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) through the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (Commonwealth), Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (Queensland) and the Torres Strait Regional Authority. The PZJA also manages non-Indigenous commercial fishing in the Torres Strait.
c Victoria – Indigenous In Victoria, regulations for managing recreational fishing are also applied to fishing activities by Indigenous people. Recognised Traditional Owners (groups that hold native title or have agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 [Vic]) are exempt (subject to conditions) from the requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence, and can apply for permits under the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) that authorise customary fishing (for example, different catch and size limits or equipment). The Indigenous category in Table 3 refers to customary fishing undertaken by recognised Traditional Owners. In 2015, there were no applications for customary fishing permits to access Southern Calamari.
d New South Wales – Indigenous Aboriginal Cultural Fishing Interim Access Arrangement, allows an Indigenous fisher in New South Wales to take in excess of a recreational bag limit in certain circumstances, for example, if they are doing so to provide fish to other community members who cannot harvest themselves.
e New South Wales – Indigenous Aboriginal cultural fishing authority - the authority that Indigenous persons can apply to take catches outside the recreational limits under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW), Section 37 (1)(c1), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority.
f Tasmania – Indigenous (management methods) In Tasmania, aborigines engaged in aboriginal fishing activities in marine waters are exempt from holding recreational fishing licences, but must comply with all other fisheries rules as if they were licensed. Additionally, recreational bag and possession limits also apply. If using pots, rings, set lines or gillnets, aborigines must obtain a unique identifying code (UIC). The policy document Recognition of Aboriginal Fishing Activities for issuing a Unique Identifying Code (UIC) to a person for Aboriginal Fishing activity explains the steps to take in making an application for a UIC.
g Victoria – Indigenous (management methods) Subject to the defence that applies under Section 211 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and the exemption from a requirement to hold a Victorian recreational fishing licence, the non-commercial take by indigenous fishers is covered by the same arrangements as that for recreational fishing.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Southern Calamari - note confidential catch not shown

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Effects of fishing on the marine environment

  • Beach seine/haul netting takes place over inshore seagrass habitats but has been shown to have negligible impact on seagrass or benthic invertebrate assemblages16. Jigs have little bycatch and do not negatively affect the environment.
  • The Ocean Trawl Fishery (New South Wales) (OTF) mandates otter trawl nets must be fitted with a bycatch reduction device of an approved design to reduce the bycatch of small prawns and juvenile fish. Mesh size and gear restrictions are regulated to increase the target species selectivity of otter trawl and Danish-seine nets and codends.
  • The effects of trawl fishing on the marine environment are assessed through an environmental risk assessment and risk management framework and mitigated through spatial closures, and the implementation of bycatch and discard work plans17,18 in the Commonwealth Trawl Sector.
  • Trawling, used in the Commonwealth Trawl Sector and the OTF, has potential for interactions with threatened, endangered and protected species. These fisheries have in place bycatch and discarding work plans17,18 or bycatch catch triggers to reduce these interactions and environmental impacts.
  • Interactions also occur with animals protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), including marine mammals (dolphins, seals and sea lions), seabirds, some shark species and seahorses and pipefish (syngnathids). Spiny Pipehorse can be taken as incidental bycatch in dredges, trawls, seines and crayfish pots19. An ecological risk assessment (ERA) into the effects of fishing from the Danish seine sub-fishery of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Commonwealth Trawl Sector) indicated that the Spiny Pipehorse was at low risk because the fishery overlaps with only a small portion of the range of this species20. An ERA into the effects of fishing from the Otter trawl sub-fishery of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Commonwealth Trawl Sector) (SESSF [CTS]) considers the Spiny Pipehorse to be high risk because of high exposure to fishing (high proportion of range within the fishery, live in habitats that are likely to encounter the gear, and are the right size to be selected by the fishery)21.
  • Interactions with protected species are reported quarterly by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA)22 and on-board observer programs are used to validate the reporting in commercial logbooks.
  • There is bycatch in the fish trawl sector. In 2006, mandatory requirements for otter trawls to use 90 mm square-mesh codend panels were introduced in an effort to reduce the bycatch of small species and juvenile fish23.
  • In 2007, the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association released an industry code of practice that aims to minimise interactions with fur seals, as well as addressing the environmental impacts of the fishery more generally24. Operators have developed other mitigation protocols that have further reduced seal mortalities, including using breakaway ties that keep the net closed until it is below depths that seals regularly inhabit, adopting techniques to close the trawl opening during recovery to minimise opportunities for seals to enter the net, switching off gantry lights that are not required during night trawling to avoid attracting bait species and seals, and dumping offal only when the boat is not engaged in deploying or hauling gear24.
  • The AFMA mandated individual vessel seabird management plans25. The seabird action plans are used in the SESSF (CTS) to mitigate the impacts of trawling on seabirds. From 1 May 2017, all vessels in the SESSF (CTS) and Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector) fisheries must use one of the following mitigation devices: sprayers; bird bafflers; or pinkies with zero discharge fish waste26.
  • In 2012–13, an environmental risk assessment of the Scalefish Fishery (Tasmania) considered the risks to bycatch, threatened endangered and protected species and habitats from fishing for Southern Calamari using squid jigs as negligible. Changes to the ecosystem and community structure from fishing for Southern Calamari using squid jigs was considered a low risk as opposed to negligible, as they are an important predator and their removal could lead to negative effects on the ecosystem and community structure. Given that catch rates have been stable or increasing, it is unlikely that fishing has reduced abundances to levels that would affect the ecosystem and community structure27.
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Environmental effects on Southern Calamari

  • Southern Calamari has highly variable life history characteristics including, variable growth rates, size and age at maturity and maximum size. The influence of environmental factors on survival, size-at-age and reproductive investment is complex and varies considerably from year to year15; the factors responsible remain poorly understood.
  • Southern Calamari productivity and distribution is strongly influenced by environmental factors, such as temperature. Even a small increase in temperature greatly accelerates growth1,28, which can impact reproduction and recruitment29. Studies on cephalopods throughout the world have shown that populations can proliferate in a warming environment combined with the removal of predators30.
  • Spawning occurs in shallow inshore waters, with egg mass deposits attached to seagrass, macro-algae and reef substrates9,29. Environmental pressures on these habitats include the effects of coastal development, marine pollution, ocean warming and changing weather patterns31. These pressures have the potential to influence the timing and location of spawning activities and success. It is also likely that seasonal environmental changes (such as changes in water temperature over preferred spawning areas) have an effect on annual spawning and recruitment success, contributing to the high interannual variability in biomass of this species28.
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  1. 1 Triantafillos, L 2004, Effects of genetic and environmental factors on growth of southern calamary, Sepioteuthis australis, from southern Australia and northern New Zealand, Marine and Freshwater Research, 55: 439–446.
  2. 2 Triantafillos, L and Adams, M 2001, Allozyme analysis reveals a complex population structure in the southern calamary Sepioteuthis australis from Australia and New Zealand, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 212: 193–209.
  3. 3 Smith, TM, Green, CP and Sherman, CDH 2015, Patterns of connectivity and population structure of the southern calamary Sepioteuthis australis in southern Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research. 66:942-947.
  4. 4 Pecl, G, Tracey, S, Danyushevsky, L, Wotherspoon, S and Moltschaniwskyj, N 2011, Elemental fingerprints of Southern Calamari (Sepioteuthis australis) reveal local recruitment sources and allow assessment of the importance of closed areas, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 68(8): 1351–1360.
  5. 5 Hall, KC 2015, Southern calamari (Sepioteuthis australis), In: J Stewart, A Hegarty, C Young, AM Fowler, and J Craig (ed.s), Status of fisheries resources in NSW 201314, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Mosman, pp 310–313.
  6. 6 West, LD, Stark, KE, Murphy, JJ, Lyle, JM and Ochwada-Doyle FA 2015, Survey of recreational fishing in New South Wales and the ACT, 2013/14, Fisheries final report series 149, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongong.
  7. 7 Conron S, Green, C, Hamer, P, Giri, K, and Hall, K 2016, Corner Inlet- Nooramunga Fishery assessment 2016. Fisheries Victoria Science Report Series No. 11.
  8. 8 Green, C, Morris, L, Brown, L, Parry, G, Ryan, K and Conron, S 2012, Victoria’s bay and inlet calamari stock assessment 2008, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Melbourne.
  9. 9 Green, CP 2015, Jigging for Science—Defining the spawning needs of calamari in Port Phillip Bay. Recreational Fishing Grants Program research report, Vic DPI, Melbourne.
  10. 10 Emery, T, Lyle, J and Hartmann, K 2016, Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery assessment 2014/15, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  11. 11 Lyle, JM, Stark, KE and Tracey, SR 2014, 2012–13 survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania. IMAS, Hobart.
  12. 12 Steer, M, Lloyd, M and Jackson, W 2007, Southern Calamary (Sepioteuthis australis) fishery, South Australian Research and Development Institute, Adelaide.
  13. 13 Primary Industries and Regions South Australia, 2015, Status of South Australian fisheries report: Fisheries snapshot for 2012–13, South Australian Fisheries Management Series, Paper number 69, PRISA, Adelaide.
  14. 14 Pecl, G 2001, Flexible reproductive strategies in tropical and temperate Sepioteuthis squids, Marine Biology, 138: 93–101.
  15. 15 Pecl, GT, Moltschaniwskyj, NA, Tracey, SR and Jordan, AR 2004, Inter-annual plasticity of squid life history and population structure: ecological and management implications, Oecologia, 139(4): 515–524.
  16. 16 Otway, NM and Macbeth, WG 1999, Physical effects of hauling on seagrass beds, New South Wales Fisheries Research Institute, Cronulla.
  17. 17 Australian Fisheries Management Authority 2014, Commonwealth Trawl Sector (Otter Board Trawl and Danish Seine) bycatch and discarding workplan 2014–2016, AFMA, Canberra.
  18. 18 Australian Fisheries Management Authority 2014, Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector bycatch and discarding workplan 2014–2016, AFMA, Canberra.
  19. 19 Bray, DJ no date, Spiny Pipehorse, Solegnathus spinosissimus, in Fishes of Australia, Museums Victoria.
  20. 20 Wayte, S, Bulman, C, Dowdney, J, Sporcic, M, Williams, A, Fuller, M and Smith, A 2007a, Ecological risk assessment for the effects of fishing: report for the Danish seine sub-fishery of the Commonwealth Trawl Sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, final report for the Australian Fisheries Management Authority R04/1072, AFMA, Canberra.
  21. 21 Wayte, S, Dowdney, J, Williams, A, Bulman, C, Sporcic, M, Fuller, M and Smith, A 2007b, Ecological risk assessment for the effects of fishing: report for the otter trawl sub-fishery of the Commonwealth Trawl Sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, final report for the Australian Fisheries Management Authority R04/1072, AFMA, Canberra.
  22. 22 Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Protected species interaction reports, AFMA, Canberra.
  23. 23 Australian Fisheries Management Authority 2005, SESSF direction no. 05: gear requirements for the Commonwealth Trawl Sector, AFMA, Canberra.
  24. 24 South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association 2007, Industry code of practice to minimise interactions with seals, SETFIA, Shearwater, Tasmania.
  25. 25 Australian Fisheries Management Authority , Seabirds, AFMA, Canberra.
  26. 26 Australian Fisheries Management Authority 2016, AFMA moves to strengthen seabird safety, AFMA media release 15 July 2016.
  27. 27 Bell, JD, Lyle, JM, Andre, J and Hartmann, K 2016, Tasmanian scalefish fishery: ecological risk assessment. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  28. 28 Moltschaniwskyj, N, Pecl, G, Lyle, J, Haddon, M and Steer, M 2003, Population dynamics and reproductive ecology of the southern calamary (Sepioteuthis australis) in Tasmania, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2000/121, FRDC, Canberra.
  29. 29 Steer, M, Moltschaniwskyj, N and Gowland, F 2002, Temporal variability in embryonic development and mortality in the southern calamary Sepioteuthis australis: a field assessment, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 243: 143–150.
  30. 30 Doubleday, ZA, Prowse, TAA, Arkhipkin, A, Pierce, GJ, Semmens, J, Steer, M, Leporati, SC, Lourenco, S, Quetglas, A, Sauer, W and Gillanders, BM 2016, Global proliferation of cephalopods. Current Biology 26: R406-407
  31. 31 Hobday, A, Poloczanska, E and Matear, R (ed.s) 2008, Implications of climate change for Australian fisheries and aquaculture: a preliminary assessment, report to the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Canberra.

Archived reports

Click the links below to view reports from other years for this fish.