A boost for rock lobster tourism through charter boat changes

  • ​New rules for selected charter vessels to boost rock lobster fishing tourism to support local jobs
  • McGowan Government building opportunities to make more local lobsters available
  • Trial supported by Recfishwest, Tourism Council WA and Marine Tourism Association WA
  • The McGowan Government is introducing a new three-year trial to grow jobs in the marine tourism sector by opening up more opportunities for locals and tourists to catch Western Australia’s most iconic seafood – Western Rock Lobster. 

    Developed jointly between the State Government, Recfishwest, Tourism Council WA and the Marine Tourism Association WA, the trial aims to enhance marine tourism by improving the rules applicable to some authorised rock lobster fishing charter operators.  

    The trial, which will commence in November, includes:

    • an increased to the number of pots allowed per vessel – from six to 12;
    • increased boat limits for small charter boats (licenced for six to 10 passengers), up from 24 to 40;
    • increased boat limits for large charters boats (licences for more than 10 passengers), up from 24 to 80;
    • flexibility for charter operators to store lobster on vessels and tend to pots prior to conducting rock lobster tours; and
    • new catch reporting requirements to evaluate the success of the trial.

    WA’s individual recreational fisher bag limit of eight lobsters (maximum) per passenger will be maintained.

    The Tourism Council WA has estimated the average out-of-state lobster tour visitor spends more than $5,000 in WA, which helps support local jobs in coastal towns. Last year, more than 19 charter tours occurred each day, giving more than 66,600 tourists and locals the opportunity to indulge in our premium seafood.

    The charter industry is working with Recfishwest to ensure the new arrangements do not result in any conflict around popular lobster fishing locations. This trial will have no impact on the commercial sector, as the charter catch is part of the recreational quota.

    As stated by Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly:

    “The opportunity to ‘catch and cook’ iconic Western rock lobster is a unique Western Australian experience that we are confident will attract locals, intrastate guests and international visitors.

    “This trial will not only unlock the tourism potential of our coastal communities, but also service Western Australian’s who don’t own a boat but want to experience the thrill of catching a lobster.

    “Enhancing tourism opportunities to support the local economy and create jobs by showcasing our most unique seafood is a great idea put forward by the peak bodies. I thank them for their leadership and work.”

    As stated by Tourism Minister Paul Papalia:

    “These steps to improve rock lobster fishing charters will not only enhance the on board experience, but also cement the opportunity to catch a cray as an iconic ‘must do’ for all visitors to WA.

    “This trial initiative will serve as a great tourism drawcard for interstate and international visitors who travel to Western Australia to experience our natural attractions, pristine environment, stunning landscapes and quality food and wine offerings.”

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