Whyalla close to heart of Cuttlefish Country

DOCUMENTARY: Emma and Daniel Monceaux, who have funded and directed their environmental documentary "Cuttlefish Country".
DOCUMENTARY: Emma and Daniel Monceaux, who have funded and directed their environmental documentary "Cuttlefish Country".

This year, Whyalla will be the first town in the country to hold a screening for the feature-length environmental documentary Cuttlefish Country produced by Dan and Emma Monceaux.

The film documents the decline and recent partial recovery of the Giant Australian Cuttlefish who migrate to Point Lowly annually to breed.

It is featured within a political story about industrialisation and its environmental impacts across the Spencer Gulf. Mr Monceaux said that his initial fascination with the cuttlefish began when he made contact with Whyalla Diving Services owner Tony Bramley in the early 2000s.

Bramley informed him of the commercial fishing of cuttlefish.

“He told me that the cuttlefish had been hit hard, and were likely to struggle to recover,” Mr Monceaux said.

The population fell from an estimates exceeding 170,000 animals in the late 1990s, to a record low of 13, 492 in 2013, despite the gradual introduction of protected areas.

Mr Monceaux said that the cuttlefish's “narrow escape” from heavy fishing in the late 1990s was his original inspiration to create a documentary.

The film's scope then broadened to include more historical context, and to consider the implications of port and desalination plant developments, including the Olympic Dam expansion and the impacts of existing industrial activities.

“Picking up the wider regional development story of Spencer Gulf allowed us to expand from a short film into a feature-length documentary,” he said.

The 280 Megalitre per day desalination plant proposed for Point Lowly was approved in 2011, but has not been constructed.

The Olympic Dam mine expansion is currently proceeding in a different manner, and is no longer likely to require the plant.

Mr Monceaux suggests there are a number of other risks which need to be considered.

“The film is intended to inform people of the environmental risks and impacts of various industrial activities on our marine and coastal environments,” he said.

“We hope our work can inform State planning processes and lead to better environmental outcomes.”

Mr Monceaux said that he supported the idea of including satellite facilities to the proposed Cuttlefish Interpretative Centre as a part of the Northern Coastline Masterplan.

“To see the cuttlefish you currently have to get into thick wet suits and enter the water,” he said.

“Opportunities exist for new tourism businesses which could allow people to view the cuttlefish, either from a glass bottom boat, or built underwater viewing structure.”

Cuttlefish Country will premiere in Whyalla in 2016 at a date yet to be confirmed.