Southern Calamari

Latin name: Sepioteuthis australis

Common names: Calamari, Squid

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Wild Caught


Key Facts

  • Southern calamari is a fast growing, short-lived and quick to reproduce species, although reproduction varies according to environmental conditions.
  • Southern calamari are mostly caught using target jig fishing methods on WA’s south coast, but they are also caught in bottom gillnet and haul net fishing on the south and west coasts.
  • Populations are likely to be healthy given the small scale of recent catches, limited extent of fishing across likely southern calamari habitat, and the resilient characteristics of the species.
  • The health of WA southern calamari populations are poorly understood and fishing is weakly regulated in some areas. Recent efforts by managers to better understand the species’ abundance and introduce modern fisheries management in some areas is welcome.
  • The fishing methods used pose a low risk to habitats or threatened marine wildlife.

Cooking & Recipes


To ensure they remain tender, squid and calamari should be cooked hot and fast in a pan, deep fryer or on a barbecue. Simply score, sear, and serve! Scoring with a knife in a fine crosshatch pattern allows the heat to penetrate quickly and keeps the flesh tender. When frying calamari, cook in small batches to ensure you don’t overload (and cool down) the pan, as this can result in rubbery stewed results. Calamari can also be slow cooked for hours in a sauce of tomato and wine for a delicious tender braise. Very fresh calamari can be finely sliced into ‘noodles’ and eaten raw.

More information

  • WA South Coast Line and Fish Trap Managed Fishery, South Coast Nearshore Net Managed Fishery, and the  Commercial Open Access Squid Fishery on the West Coast  (up to 41t in 2020)

Southern calamari is a fast growing, short-lived (around 12 months) species that reproduces quickly and produces a high number of offspring. This makes them highly resilient to fishing pressure. Undertaking formal stock assessments (scientific assessments of the numbers of a species) of squid species is generally difficult for fishery managers, as reproduction is highly variable depending on environmental conditions.

The first rudimentary scientific assessment of WA southern calamari population health has recently been conducted, and is a welcome advance.

The highly rudimentary management arrangements – there are no effective catch or fishing pressure limits in the open access squid fishery that operates on the west coast – and recent significant increases in catch and effort on the West Coast are of some concern. This potential risk is significantly reduced by the relatively low overall catch, that fishing activity occurs in a small area of likely southern calamari habitat on both west and south coast fisheries, and because southern calamari has relatively productive and short lived life history characteristics that should provide resilience to fishing pressure.

Southern calamari are caught in WA in a range of small-scale fisheries targeting them using jig fishing methods, and to a lesser extent bottom gillnet and haul net fishing methods on WA’s south and west coasts.

Jig fishing methods used to catch southern calamari do not impact seafloor habitats and have little or no catch of any other species. This makes jig-caught southern calamari from WA a very low impact seafood option.

While management of net fishing impacts on other bycatch species, threatened and endangered wildlife, and vulnerable habitats is highly rudimentary, the small scale nature of the fisheries reduces the real risk they pose. These types of fishing methods generally have low impacts on marine habitat and threatened species, although increased reporting by independent fisheries observers would provide additional confidence in reporting of endangered species interactions.

There is relatively little marine park protection across the fishery, though some estuaries are closed to commercial fishing and the future implementation of currently planned marine parks along the south coast’s coastal waters has the potential to significantly advance the scientific management and sustainability of the fishery.