Hervey Bay MP stands by marine park fees despite changes
HERVEY Bay MP Ted Sorensen says he still supports a fee-paying permit system for commercial whale watching in marine parks, despite regulation changes that allow operators into waters outside marine parks without a permit.
Whale watching operators at the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast can now stop in Queensland waters, rather than having to travel to Commonwealth waters three kilometres from shore.
The move has drawn criticism from Hervey Bay operators who say the changes will endanger the health of the migrating whales and are unfair to operators who pay thousands of dollars in fees to work in the Great Sandy Marine Park.
Mr Sorensen said the government needed to work on reducing the permit fees.
He said the Fraser Coast had to package its tourism attractions to make sure it didn't lose potential visitors to competing regions.
"Whale watching in Hervey Bay will always be better," he said.
"How we can sell that will be the really important thing."