Southern Calamari Sepioteuthis australis

Jeremy Lylea, Corey Greenb, Kevin  Rowlingc and Michael Steerd

Southern Calamari

Table 1: Stock status determination for Southern Calamari


South Australia



New South



South Australia



New South Wales


Stock status












Catch, effort, CPUE trends

Catch, effort, CPUE trends

Catch, effort, CPUE trends

Catch, effort, CPUE trends


B&IF = Bay and Inlet Fisheries (Victoria); CPUE = catch per unit effort; EGF = Estuary General Fishery (New South Wales); ITF = Inshore Trawl Fishery (Victoria); MSF = Marine Scalefish Fishery (South Australia); OF = Ocean Fishery (Victoria); OTF-PS = Ocean Trawl Fishery—Prawn Sector (New South Wales); SAPF = South Australia Prawn Fisheries; SESSF = Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Commonwealth);
SF = Scalefish Fishery (Tasmania) ​

Stock Structure

The biological stock structure across the distributional range of Southern Calamari has not been examined. However, life history dynamics, and study of movement and statolith microchemistry in Tasmania, suggest some localised biological stock structuring1. In the absence of robust information on biological stock boundaries, stock status is reported at the jurisdictional level.

Stock Status

Limited information is available on this species. Hence, the information that is available from each jurisdiction is combined below.

The species is characterised by strong interannual variability in abundance, as a result of a life span of less than one year, and spawning and recruitment variability2–3. In the absence of quantitative assessments, South Australia and Tasmania have implemented performance indicators based on commercial catch, effort and catch rate trends. Comparison of these indicators against limit reference points in both jurisdictions suggests that Southern Calamari is currently harvested within sustainable limits.

No formal performance indicators are applied in New South Wales or Victoria, apart from reports of trends in production (including effort and catch rates). Commercial landings and catch rates in New South Wales have been relatively stable in recent years. For Victoria, the commercial fishery is characterised by decreasing effort and increasing catch and catch rates. In the Commonwealth, Southern Calamari is considered to be a byproduct species, and little is known about stock structure, biomass or the effects of fishing pressure.

Stock assessments have not been completed, except for an assessment for South Australia up to 2007. Consequently, insufficient information is available to confidently classify the status of Southern Calamari in each jurisdiction. Hence Southern Calamari in each jurisdiction is classified as an undefined stock.

Table 2: Southern Calamari biology4

Longevity and maximum size

<1 year; 55 cm dorsal mantle length, 3–4 kg

Maturity (50%)

3–6 months; 15–20 cm dorsal mantle length

Southern Calamari distribution map

Figure 1: Distribution of reported commercial catch of Southern Calamari in Australian waters, 2010

Main features and statistics for Southern Calamari stocks/fisheries in Australia in 2010
  • Commercial catch of Southern Calamari is predominantly taken using jigs, or as byproduct in haul nets (beach seine) and inshore fish and prawn trawls. Small quantities are also taken by dip net or spear, or as an incidental catch in gillnets. Jigs account for the vast majority of the catch in South Australia5 and Tasmania2, whereas in New South Wales the species is taken mainly by fish and prawn trawls6. For Victoria, haul seines are predominantly used to take calamari7. Commonwealth trawlers in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery occasionally take Southern Calamari as a byproduct. Recreational fishers mainly target Southern Calamari using squid jigs.
  • A range of input and output controls are in place across jurisdictions:
    • Input controls include limited entry (licensing), spatial and temporal closures, and gear and vessel restrictions.
    • Output controls include recreational bag limits.
  • In 2010, Southern Calamari commercial catch was reported from 240 vessels in South Australia, 92 vessels in New South Wales, 52 vessels in Tasmania, 54 vessels in Victoria and 27 vessels in the Commonwealth.
  • Total commercial catch of Southern Calamari across Australia in 2010 was 530 tonnes (t), comprising 348 t in South Australia, 48 t in New South Wales, 54 t in Tasmania, 72 t in Victoria and 8 t in the Commonwealth. Recreational harvest represents a significant component of the total catch. For example, during 2008, an estimated 300 t was taken by recreational fishers in South Australia and 45 t in Tasmania. In 2007, an estimated 45 t was taken in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. Annual catches of 10–40 t have been estimated for New South Wales6. Indigenous catch is unquantified.

Figure 2: Commercial catch of Southern Calamari in Australian waters, 2000–10 (calendar year)

Figure 2: Commercial catch of Southern Calamari in Australian waters, 2000–10 (calendar year)
Note: New South Wales and Victorian catch figures are for financial years (e.g. 1999–2000 data are presented as 2000).

Catch Explanation

Since 2000, commercial catch of Southern Calamari has fluctuated between 490 and 800 t per year, although it has stabilised at around 500 t over the past five years. Recent catch and effort levels are within reference ranges and have been influenced by changing management arrangements (introduction of licences, spawning season closures), in addition to fluctuations in the availability of calamari. Most catch has come from South Australia, where catch has ranged between 279 t (2008) and 469 t (2004). Tasmanian catch has ranged between 47 t (2009) and 121 t (2004).

Victorian catch has ranged between 54 t (2009) and 97 t (2001). New South Wales catch peaked at 91 t in 2001 and has remained below about 70 t since then; catch was 48 t in 2010. Commonwealth trawl landings of calamari represent a minor component of the overall fishery, peaking at 47 t in 2004 before declining steadily to less than 10 t in 2010.

Effects of fishing on the marine environment
  • Jigs are the primary method used to fish for Southern Calamari, and have few bycatch or environmental impacts. However, fishing often targets aggregations, which may be spawning. In Tasmania, effort on spawning aggregations is controlled by seasonal spawning area closures2.

Environmental effects on Southern Calamari
  • Southern Calamari is highly plastic in its life cycle traits3, and a detailed understanding of the links between environmental factors and growth, reproduction and survival characteristics is a research priority.
  • Spawning occurs in shallow inshore waters, with egg mop deposits attached to sea grass, macro-algae and reef substrates8. Environmental pressures on these habitats include the effects of coastal development, marine pollution, ocean warming and changing weather patterns9. These pressures have the potential to influence spawning dynamics and success.

a Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Tasmania
b Department of Primary Industries, Victoria
c Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales
d South Australian Research and Development Institute