State government backs growth of tourism in the charter boat fishery industry

A new plan devised by the South Australian government is looking to give the charter boat fishing industry a boost by making the state a tourist destination for recreational fishing.

Across the state charter boat passenger numbers decreased by 39 percent from 2011 to 2017.

The industry’s management plan is being revised in order to provide better environmental and economic outcomes for charter boat fishers as well as ensuring the sustainability of the trade. 

The consultation paper also pushes for better links to South Australia’s regional tourism, and includes proposals to revitalise and create new opportunities within the industry. 

John Tiller, from KEEN as FISH, SA Fishing Charters, said a review of the management plan and more of a focus on tourism in the industry was definitely needed. 

Mr Tiller said talking to fellow fishing charter workers and working all over Australia meant he had noticed a slump in the South Australian charter boat industry.

“I’ve fished around a lot of Australia, but it’s South Australia that unfortunately seems to be forgotten,” he says.

“The recognition of how good South Australian seafood is, and the vast amount of species we have on offer; that recognition of everything has been put on a back burner,” he said. 

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the $11.2 million industry was ‘significant’ to the state.

“Under the proposed plan, Primary Industries and Regions SA would work with industry and relevant organisations to explore strategies that support tourism in the charter boat sector,” Mr Whetstone said.

However Peter Dennis, of Triple Bay Charters in Port Lincoln, said he was concerned about how much the government could really achieve. 

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years; I’ve been around a long time, and it’s a struggle,” he said.

“Base rate prices keep rising, and the major thing is the cost you then have to pass on to the customer.

“On holidays, families used to be able to do everything; and now they can only afford to pick one thing.

“We need confidence in this community that isn’t there,” he said.

Public feedback is also encouraged about the proposed plan on the PIRSA website by December 21.