Southern Calamari (2020)

Sepioteuthis australis

  • Nils Krueck (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Karina Hall (NSW Department of Primary Industry)
  • Victorian Fisheries Authority (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Rocio Noriega4 (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
  • Rocio Noriega (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
  • Michael Drew (SARDI Aquatic Sciences, South Australia)

Date Published: June 2021

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

Toggle content


Stocks of Southern Calamari are considered to be sustainable in SA, VIC and NSW waters, while the stock in TAS is considered to be depleting. In Commonwealth waters, the stock is negligible.

Toggle content

Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Tasmania Tasmania Depleting Catch, effort, CPUE trends
Toggle content

Stock Structure

The biological structure of populations 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 were not available for Victoria) [Triantafillos and Adams 2001]. In contrast, another study using microsatellite markers found little genetic differentiation between seven study sites in Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia [Smith et al. 2015]. The same study identified Tasmania as a possibly important site for gene flow. Life history dynamics and studies of movement and statolith microchemistry in Tasmania suggest some localised population structuring [Pecl et al. 2011]. In the absence of conclusive evidence on biological stock boundaries, assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—Commonwealth, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

Toggle content

Stock Status


The commercial fishery for Southern Calamari in Tasmania initially developed in the mid-1990s in the State’s south-east. Annual catches rose to around 100 t between 1998–99 and 2004–05. Management interventions, such as the introduction of a species-specific licence and seasonal closures on key spawning grounds, were put in place due to declines in both catch and catch rates. Since these interventions, catches, effort and catch rates in the State’s south-east have generally been stable, with average annual catches of around 20–30 t reported from this region since 2006–07 [Krueck et al. 2020].

Since the late 2000s, commercial landings of Southern Calamari off the State’s north coast have increased from around 15 t prior to 2007 to >80 t in 2016–17 [Krueck et al. 2020]. These catches have been accompanied by increased levels of both fishing effort (vessel days) and catch rates. With no clear indication that fishing mortality was excessive, the stock was considered sustainable [Moore et al. 2018]. However, data for 2017–18 indicated a substantial decline in both north coast catches and catch rates, leading to a revised classification of the stock as depleting [Moore et al. 2019]. In 2018–19, both the total commercial catch (107 t) and catch rates increased back to levels comparable to peak conditions in the 2015–16 and 2016–17 seasons [Krueck et al 2020].

Estimates of recreational catches of Southern Calamari indicate a consistently increasing interest by this sector, peaking with an estimated catch of 64 t in 2012–13 [Lyle et al. 2019]. In 2017–18, recreational catch was reduced by about 50 per cent (31 t)—similar to commercial catches in that season.

Sharp declines in catches and catch rates on the North coast initiated fishery-independent egg surveys from late 2017, with numbers of eggs per month during the spawning season showing significant correlations to total commercial catch [Ewing et al 2020]. Thus, limited spawning activity on north coast fishing grounds and a low associated abundance of spawning adults appear to have caused the sharp drop in commercial catch and catch rates during the 2017–18 season. Even if local environmental factors may play a role, the drivers of substantial variation in spawning activity on the North coast remain unclear [Ewing et al 2020], providing reason for caution against further depleting the stock. To address this concern, temporal closures have been introduced on both the east cost (mid-October to mid-November) and then on the north coast (October), where effort has increased most intensively over the last few seasons. However, temporal closures do not cover the known range of the Southern Calamari spawning season, during which peak fishing activity occurs [Ewing et al. 2020]. In response to this situation and recent concerns expressed by fishery stakeholders about the status of stocks under increasing fishing effort, management is currently considering options to reduce participation.

In addition to the trends and concerns described above, estimates of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) based on the "Catch-MSY" approach after Haddon and Punt [2018] indicate that recent catches of Southern Calamari exceed sustainable limits of 75 t (95 per cent CI = 64–84 t) across state waters and 33 t (95 per cent CI = 23–48 t) on the North coast [Moore et al 2018]. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. However, the above evidence also indicates that the current level of fishing mortality is likely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence presented above, Southern Calamari in Tasmania is classified as a depleting stock.

Toggle content


Southern Calamari biology [Pecl 2001, Pecl et al. 2004, Triantafillos 2004]

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 
Toggle content


Distribution of reported commercial catch of Southern Calamari

Toggle content


Fishing methods
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Squid Jigging
Haul Seine
Squid Jigging
Squid Jigging
Management methods
Method Tasmania
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Temporal closures (spawning season)
Bag and possession limits
Bag limits
Temporal closures (spawning season)
Bag and possession limits
Bag limits
Temporal closures (spawning season)
Commercial 107.40t
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 65 t (2012–13), 31 t (2017/18)

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.

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.

New South Wales – Recreational (catch totals) Estimate from Murphy et al. [2020], based on a survey of Recreational Fishing Licence households.

New South Wales – Indigenous (Management Methods) https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aboriginal-fishing).

Victoria – Indigenous (Management Methods) A person who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is exempt from the need to obtain a Victorian recreational fishing licence, provided they comply with all other rules that apply to recreational fishers, including rules on equipment, catch limits, size limits and restricted areas. Traditional (non-commercial) fishing activities that are carried out by members of a traditional owner group entity under an agreement pursuant to Victoria’s Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 are also exempt from the need to hold a recreational fishing licence, subject to any conditions outlined in the agreement. Native title holders are also exempt from the need to obtain a recreational fishing licence under the provisions of the Commonwealth’s Native Title Act 1993.

Tasmania – Commercial (catch) Catches reported for the Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery are for the period 1 July to 30 June the following year. The most recent (complete) assessment available is for 2018/19.

Tasmania – Recreational (management methods) In Tasmania, a recreational licence is required for fishers using dropline or longline gear, along with nets, such as gillnet or beach seine. A bag limit of 10 individuals and a possession limit of 20 individuals is in place for recreational fishers.

Tasmania – Indigenous (management methods) In Tasmania, Indigenous persons engaged in traditional 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. For details, see the policy document "Recognition of Aboriginal Fishing Activities” (https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/Policy%20for%20Aboriginal%20tags%20and%20alloting%20an%20UIC.pdf).

Toggle content

Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Southern Calamari - note confidential catch not shown

Toggle content


  1. Conron, SD, Bell, JD, Ingram, BA and Gorfine, HK 2020, Review of key Victorian fish stocks — 2019, Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 15, First Edition, November 2020. VFA: Queenscliff. 176pp
  2. Ewing, G, Forbes, E, Lyle, J, Krueck, N, Pecl, G and Tracey, S 2020, Where do Calamari spawn in Northern Tasmania and how will this information aid the management of the Calamari fishery in Northern Tasmania? Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart, Tasmania.
  3. Giri, K, Hall K 2015, South Australian recreational fishing survey. Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62.
  4. 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.
  5. Haddon M and Punt A 2018, simpleSA: A package containing functions to facilitate relatively simple stock assessments. R package version 0.1.10.
  6. 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 2013–14, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Mosman, pp 310–313.
  7. Hall, KC 2018, Status of Australian Fish Stocks 2018–NSW Stock status summary–Southern Calamari (Sepioteuthis australis), NSW Department of Primary Industries, Coffs Harbour.
  8. Hall, KC, 2020, Status of Australian Fish Stocks 2020 - NSW Stock status summary – Southern Calamari (Sepioteuthis australis). NSW Department of Primary Industries, Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia.
  9. Krueck, N., Hartmann, K., Lyle, J. Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery Assessment 2018/19
  10. Lyle, JM, Stark, KE, Ewing, GP and Tracey, SR 2019, 2017-18 Survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart, Tasmania.
  11. Moore, B, Lyle, J and Hartmann, K 2019, Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery assessment 2017/18, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  12. Murphy, JJ, Ochwada-Doyle, FA, West, LD, Stark, KE and Hughes, JM, 2020, The NSW Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program - survey of recreational fishing, 2017/18. Fisheries Final Report Series No. 158.
  13. Pecl, G 2001, Flexible reproductive strategies in tropical and temperate Sepioteuthis squids, Marine Biology, 138: 93–101.
  14. 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.
  15. Pecl, GT and Jackson, GD 2008, The potential impacts of climate change on inshore squid: biology, ecology and fisheries. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 18: 373–385.
  16. 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.
  17. Schnierer, S and Egan, H, 2016, Composition of the Aboriginal harvest of fisheries resources in coastal New South Wales, Australia. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 26:693-709.
  18. 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.
  19. Steer, MA, Fowler, AJ, Rogers, PJ, Bailleul, F, Earl, J, Matthews, D, Drew, M, and Tsolos, A 2020, Assessment of the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery in 2018. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2017/000427-3. SARDI Research Report Series No. 1049. 214pp.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Victorian Fisheries Authority Commercial Fish Production Information Bulletin 2019. Victorian Fisheries Authority, Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia.

Downloadable reports

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