Whale watch operators to get $4500 discount from State Govt

WHALE watching operators in Hervey Bay have secured a lower fee deal with the State Government but are still unhappy with the Gold and Sunshine Coasts' free run.

The State Government told the Chronicle it would abolish passenger fees for operators, meaning the Bay boats will save on average $4500 a year.

However, a single annual permit of $5000 - increased from $4500 - will now apply to all commercial whale watching operators in Queensland marine parks.

Quick Cat II owner Brian Perry has been in negotiations with the State Government on behalf of the local industry, since the government allowed new Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast businesses to operate closer to shore without the high fees paid by Hervey Bay operators who work in a marine park.

He said he was happy with the result but would continue to lobby the government.

"While we work in a marine park, the actual attraction is the whales," he said.

"The whales aren't part of the national park ... they come into the national park.

"Regardless on whether you're working in a marine park, I still think it's unfair the Gold Coast are getting off scot free."

National Parks Minister Steve Dickson it was a good outcome for the industry.

"The Newman Government is committed to opening up our beautiful marine and national park areas for all Queenslanders and visitors to enjoy and ensuring ecotourism can flourish is an important part of that pledge," he said.

"Additionally, all whale-watching operators will now be required to be eco-accredited, which is another step toward our goal of making Queensland the number one ecotourism destination in Australia by 2020."

State Member for Hervey Bay Ted Sorensen said it was a win for the Fraser Coast.

"Hervey Bay is where whales choose to holiday each year from July to November and our community is recognised as the industry pioneers in terms of developing world-acclaimed, quality and accredited whale-watching experiences for visitors."

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