Lobster laws a catch for tourism
Pilbara and Ningaloo tourism operators will look to jump aboard so-called catch-and-cook tourism following a relaxation of rock lobster catch laws announced by the State Government.
The changes mean registered charter operators can now catch rock lobster all year, guests will not need a licence to catch lobster when travelling with a charter, and operators can carry lobster pots for use by customers.
Lobsters caught by patrons will be able to be cooked and served by an accredited tourism business or aboard charter vessels under the new laws.
Mackerel Islands chief executive Drew Norrish said based on reactions from visitors, tropical crayfish were an attraction guests would be willing to pay for.
“If you are good enough to catch them by hand, the changes offer a fantastic opportunity to provide marine-based tours combining freshly cooked seafood, which will appeal to many market segments, especially international travellers,” he said.
Discovery Cruises owner Brad Beaumont said the move would be a boon for operators in the region, particularly those going out to the Montebello Islands.
“It gives charter boat operators something different to do and it means fisheries are seriously looking at tourism,” he said.
“The big picture here is that fisheries are relaxing and allowing people to get on and fish.
“I would like to see them get on to giving out shark licences, I think that would be advantageous to just about everybody.” Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall said the move would be a boost for marketing WA as a premium international seafood destination, particularly in the lucrative Asian markets.
Mr Hall said the announcement was an important development for marine tourism.
The changes are expected to be implemented by the end of 2016.