The charter boat fishing industry provides many Western Australians and visitors from interstate and overseas with an opportunity to enjoy world-renowned fishing-based activities.
Managing the fishing tour sector
You will need a licence from us to run any fishing tour activity which affects fish stocks. There are two kinds of fishing 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 and no new licences will be issued.
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.
Fishing tour 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 fishing tours, there are also boundary and operational rules that apply to the tour operators. These rules vary, depending on the type of fishing tour licence an operator holds. It is important licensed operators have a clear understanding of these requirements.
Fishing tour legislation is outlined on the State Law Publisher website.
Research and the fishing 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 on 9246 8472.
Our State of the Fisheries Report includes detailed information about the number of licensed fishing tour operators operating in the State and their annual catch.
Transferring and varying fishing tour licences
All fishing 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 fishing tour licence and upgrade or replace your vessel or nominated operators – but there are some circumstances where it is not possible to make these changes.
If you want to transfer or vary your fishing tour operator’s licence, or want more information about fishing tour authorisations, contact our Licensing Branch on 9482 7281.
New charter boat arrangements for rock lobster – 2019
A three-year trial of new rock lobster fishing charter management arrangements has been jointly developed by the WA Government, Recfishwest and the charter industry.
The new management arrangements will allow certain authorised charter operators to increase the number of pots fished per vessel from six to 12. Increased boat limits will also apply – 40 lobsters for small charter boats (licensed for six-10 passengers), and 80 lobsters for larger charter boats (licensed for more than 10 passengers).
Other arrangements under the trial include increased flexibility for charter operators to tend pots prior to conducting rock lobster tours, as well as additional catch reporting requirements to evaluate the success of the trial. WA’s individual bag limit of eight lobsters per passenger still applies.
The department will contact charter operators to discuss eligibility for the trial shortly. A question and answer document is available under Related information on the left of this page.