Cuttlefish:

Protection for the Spencer Gulf cuttlefish population:

Around forty-five percent of identified cuttlefish spawning habitat in the Spencer Gulf lies within False Bay, the small embayment between Whyalla and Point Lowly Lighthouse.  The South Australian government closed this area to cuttlefish harvesting between March 1, 2000 and September 30, 2000.  This closure has since been extended.

This area needs permanent protection within a marine protected area. 

Given that cuttlefish are spawning in the rock walls of the Whyalla boat harbour as well as the more extensive artificial rock walls adjacent to the steelworks, there is clearly the potential to establish additional artificial habitat south of Whyalla and north of Point Lowly (into Fitzgerald bay).  The development of dedicated artificial habitat should be trialed, in my view.

Perhaps the reason that the State government has been reluctant to proclaim a permanent sanctuary is that False Bay is seen as the possible site of additional harbour facilities, should new heavy industry be attracted to this area.  However, having worked at Port Kembla, adjacent to one of Australia's other large steelworks, I can say that I do not believe that the development of heavy industry needs necessarily to be damaging to the interests of cuttlefish, providing the discharge of pollution is well controlled.

The responsible ministers of the South Australian State Government are the Minister for Primary Industry and Deputy Premier, and the Minister for the Environment.  You may wish to ask them for further information, or express your support for the establishment of a permanent marine protected area covering the whole of False Bay.  Both ministers may be contacted by mail at: Parliament House, GPO Box 572, Adelaide, South Australia 5001.

There is a current proposal for a desalination plant at False Bay.  The technology exists to allow such a plant to be environmentally benign, but will it be used? The cheapest waste solution would be to dispose of saline flows to the ocean, and these have the potential to cause major disruption to local marine ecosystems, including those that attract and support the cuttlefish. More info:  http://au.geocities.com/daveclarkecb/GulfDesal.html/. According to David Clarke, it was announced on ABC radio 1/4/07 that a pilot plant is to go ahead - apparently without any need for an environmental impact assessment.

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