Point Lowly, near Whyalla on South Australia's Spencer Gulf, has the world's only known breeding aggregation of cuttlefish.

and barramundi farmed in South Australia

SOUTH AUSTRALIA PRODUCES THE MOST DIVERSE AQUACULTURE IN AUSTRALIA, including subtidal and intertidal mollusc farming, sea-cage farming of finfish and a range of land-based systems.

There are six sectors of marine-based aquaculture in South Australia:

  • Southern bluefin tuna (wild-capture for ranching)
  • finfish (e.g. yellowtail kingfish and mulloway)
  • intertidal shellfish (e.g. oysters)
  • Subtidal filter-feeding shellfish (e.g. mussels and scallops)
  • Subtidal non filter-feeding shellfish (e.g. abalone)
  • Algae (e.g. macro-algae)

There are also three categories of land-based farming: A (e.g. yabbies), B (e.g. barramundi) and C (e.g. coastal abalone farms and hatcheries)

The state government, through the fisheries and aquaculture division of the Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) has developed aquaculture resource management to ensure it develops in an ecologically sustainable way.

One of South Australia’s successful aquaculture ventures has been Clean Sea Tuna’s kingfish pens in Spencer Gulf pens. It has achieved excellent fish health and survival rates, running close to world’s best practice and outstanding sales growth.

The 100 oyster growers in South Australia’s seven main growing bays produced 55% of the nation’s Pacific oysters. This has increased since the POMS (Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome) virus hit Tasmanian oyster hatcheries in 2015. In 2016, the state government banned import of all live Pacific oysters, including oyster breeding stock (sat) from Tasmania.


Nineteen marine parks with 83 sanctuary zones to protect diversity off South Australian coast

Nineteen marine parks, containing 83 sanctuary zones, came into full force around the South Australian coast from 2014. The sanctuary zones and restricted access zones within the parks are the core of the marine parks’ intent: to conserve the biodiversity of southern Australia’s marine species, with 85% not found anywhere else in the world. The zones, that don’t allow any fishing, have been opposed by professional fishing groups and some communities but the marine parks have bolstered South Australia’s repute as having among the best fishing management in the world. The benefits of the sanctuary zones to overall fish stocks have not yet been proven conclusively. But a five-year progress report found 205 species of fish in the marine parks. Offshore island sanctuary zones had the highest abundance of large fish, with the highest overall fish diversity found in Pearson Island sanctuary zone off Eyre Peninsula in Spencer Gulf. The total rock lobster catch off Kangaroo Island for the first three months of the first season of zones was 6.7% higher than a year earlier. The sanctuary zones are working to protect long-lived species that are attached to particular areas. Kangaroo Island’s Sponge Gardens sanctuary zone is an example of an important biodiverse refuge for blue groper, blue devils and harlequin fish. Although sanctuary zones exclude fishing, they are open to special marine experiences, such as snorkelling with South Australia’s giant Australian cuttlefish in the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park.  Public support for marine parks remains high and rose in 2017 to 91%.

Windara, biggest reef restoration in southern hemisphere, at Gulf St Vincent, South Australia

Windara, the southern hemisphere’s largest reef restoration, is being led by The Nature Conservancy in Gulf St Vincent in South Australia. In 2017-18, almost 10,000 tonnes of limestone boulders were placed to form 150 reefs across 20 hectares, about 1km off Ardrossan on Yorke Peninsula. After first 30,000 mature native oysters were seeded in 2018, that number has reached 50,000 – with the ultimate goal of seven million oysters. The native oysters (Ostrea angasi) were seeded at eight months old, about egg-yolk size, and supplied by the South Australian Research and Development Institute. Juvenile oysters are likely to begin producing spat (offspring) at three years old. Oyster reefs are the temperate water equivalent to coral reefs. Australia’s southern coastline was home to thousands of kilometres of oyster reefs before European settlement but dredging for substrate in lime production and oyster harvesting for food wiped out all reefs except off Tasmania. Adult native oysters excrete a mucus rich in nutrients that provides food for small shellfish that provide food for larger fish. First dives to measure Windara reef’s benefits have revealed abalone, scallops, sea urchins, schools of leatherjackets, snapper, magpie perch and cuttlefish adding to its biodiversity. Hopes are for the reef to increase fish production to five tonnes per hectare a year including recreational fishing favourites such as snapper and King George whiting. The project is a joint effort of the South Australian and Australian governments, The Nature Conservancy, Yorke Peninsula Council and Adelaide University

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