Whale operators fear they have been harpooned by the LNP
JASON Brigden is angry about many aspects of the Newman Government's decision to lift the ban on whale watching boats on the Sunshine and Gold Coast from operating in state waters, but it is his sense of betrayal that hurts the most.
Mr Brigden, who owns Whalesong Cruises in Hervey Bay, said he had been meeting members of the LNP for years to discuss ways to ensure fairness when it came to commercial whale watching in Queensland.
"They talk about revitalising tourism and then they go and do this," he said.
Mr Brigden and other operators in Hervey Bay have to pay thousands of dollars every year to take visitors into the marine park to watch whales, and now operators on the Gold and Sunshine Coast will not have to pay a cent to take visitors into state waters.
A representative for Steve Dickson, Minister for National Parks, said those operators did not have to pay the fees because they were not operating in a marine park.
"When it comes to whale watching in protected areas, access permits have nothing to do with paying for whale watching, but rather they provide for the ongoing, sustainable commercial use of these protected areas," the representative said.
"All tourism operators who run their business in a protected area... are required to obtain access permits which provide for management and conservation activities."