The charter boat fishing and eco-tourism industry provides many Western Australians and visitors from interstate and overseas with an opportunity to enjoy world-renowned aquatic-based attractions.
Managing the aquatic tour sector
You will need a licence from us to run any aquatic tour activity which has the potential to impact on fish stocks or the aquatic environment.
We issue three kinds of aquatic tour licences:
This licences charter boat-based fishing activities where fish can be taken home at the end of the tour. We have restricted the number of fishing tour licences granted to protect our valuable fish resources. We only approve new fishing tour operator's licences in exceptional circumstances.
Restricted fishing tours
The focus of the restricted fishing tours licence is on eco-type activities, such as snorkelling or scuba diving, with limited fishing activity allowing only for fish to be caught and eaten as a meal during the course of the tour. Tour participants are not allowed to take captured fish home with them at the end of the tour.
An aquatic eco-tours licence permits only eco-type activities. No fishing is allowed to take place during a tour.
Aquatic tour fishing rules
As a recreational fisher on a fishing tour or restricted fishing tour the same rules, including bag and size limits, apply to you as other recreational fishers (except in the West Coast Bioregion, where there are different boat possession rules for dhufish on charter boats).
While recreational fishing rules apply to the individual clients on aquatic tours, there are also boundary and operational rules that apply to the tour operators. These rules vary, depending on the type of aquatic tour licence an operator holds. It is important licensed operators have a clear understanding of these requirements.
Aquatic tour legislation is outlined on the State Law Publisher website.
Research and the aquatic tour sector
As part of their licence obligations, charter fishing operators provide us with monthly logbook records of all the fish their clients catch.
This data is analysed by our scientists giving us a good understanding of the industry's impact on our fish resources and aquatic habitats.
If you are a tour operator and have questions about your logbook or require a new one, contact our Recreational Fishing Surveys and Statistics Branch, T: 9246 8472.
Our State of the Fisheries Report includes detailed information about the number of licensed aquatic tour operators operating in the State and their annual catch.
Transferring and varying aquatic tour licences
All aquatic tour licences are transferable and can be bought and sold, subject to certain conditions. This includes the research logbook returns being up-to-date, prior to a licence transfer taking place.
In general, you can vary your aquatic tour licence and upgrade or replace your vessel or vehicles – but there are some circumstances where it is not possible to make these changes.
Contact our licensing branch if you want to transfer or vary your aquatic tour operator's licence, or want more information about aquatic tour authorisations.
More information on aquatic tour licences can be found in the Ministerial Policy Guideline No. 12 'Assessment of Applications for the Granting, Renewal or Transfer of Fishing Tour Operators Licences'.