Charter boat rock lobster limits relaxed in bid to boost tourism

Geraldton Guardian
The changes will mean more “catch and cook” opportunities for tourists, according to the State Government.
Camera IconThe changes will mean more “catch and cook” opportunities for tourists, according to the State Government. Credit: WA News

Relaxed limits on charter boat rock lobster catches will be trialled as part of a plan to grow tourism in coastal communities such as Geraldton.

The Tourism Council WA believes the changes could generate up to $110 million for the State’s economy and expand marine tourism.

The State Government today announced a three-year trial of increased boat limits of rock lobster for selected charter operators – from 24 to 40 for some small boats and from 24 to 80 for some large boats.

Under the trial, tour operators will also be able to store lobsters on vessels and tend to pots before tours, to offer a catch-and-cook experience for visitors.

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Council chief executive Evan Hall said premium seafood experiences were valuable in attracting international visitors, who spent about $5000 per trip in Western Australia.

“The most valuable rock lobster is the one a tourist has spent thousands of dollars travelling in WA to catch themselves or eat fresh while visiting our amazing coast,” he said.

The trial, which will begin next month, was developed by the State Government, Recfishwest, Tourism Council WA and the Marine Tourism Association WA.

In a statement, the Government said the trial would have no impact on the commercial sector, as the charter catch was part of the recreational quota.

The individual recreational fisher bag limit of eight lobsters (maximum) per passenger would remain unchanged.

According to the Government statement, more than 66,000 people went on a charter tour last year – an average of 19 tours a day.

It said the charter industry was also working with Recfishwest to ensure the changes did not conflict around popular lobster fishing locations.

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