A TRIAL to boost the rock lobster fishing tourism industry, including increasing the number of lobsters allowed to be caught, will start in November.
The three-year trial is a joint effort by the State government, Recfishwest, Tourism Council WA and Marine Tourism Association WA to open more opportunities to catch the Western Rock Lobster.
The maximum number of rock lobsters to be carried on a boat at any time have been increased from 24 to 40 for small charter boats and 80 for large charters.
WA’s individual recreational fisher bag limit of eight lobsters per passenger will be maintained.
New rules will include allowing 12 pots per vessel instead of six, flexibility for charter operators to store lobster on vessels before conducting rock lobster tours and new catch reporting requirements.
Tourism Council WA has estimated the average out-of-state lobster tour visitor spends more than $5000 in WA, which helps support local jobs in coastal towns.
More than 19 charter tours occurred each day last year, for more than 66,600 tourists and locals.
The charter industry is working with Recfishwest to ensure the new arrangements would not cause 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.
Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said the trial would service West Australians who don’t own a boat but want to experience the thrill of catching a lobster.
“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,” he said.
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said the trial would serve as a tourism drawcard for interstate and international visitors, as a ‘must do’ activity in WA.