WARRNAMBOOL could benefit from millions of tourism dollars if it was marketed as a tuna-catching destination, according to Portland amateur fishing industry commentator Bob McPherson.
He hopes the issue will be cast at a forum in Warrnambool next month, where Fisheries Victoria will update anglers on research findings, new regulations, trout and native fish stocking and new facilities.
Mr McPherson’s views add weight to a continuing campaign by Warrnambool and district enthusiasts for a major upgrade of launching and mooring facilities in Lady Bay.
Visiting boaters often bypass Warrnambool and head to Portland or Port Fairy to launch.
Mr McPherson said tuna were usually in Warrnambool waters for two-and-a-half months from late May and should be promoted better, creating additional tourism opportunities for the region.
“(Portland’s) got $10 million of tourism, I’d say in the next three or four years. Under good management, 30 per cent of that would go to Warrnambool if they promoted it right,” he said.
“They (boaters) want to catch it when it’s there and it’s got to be promoted right (as) a late season of tuna.
“You’ll never have what Portland’s got (in terms) of fishing, but from the end of May onwards you’ve got a late season of tuna.”
Premier and member for South West Coast Denis Napthine said the August 13 forum was an opportunity for recreational anglers to learn more about local fisheries and share ideas about improving opportunities.
Mr McPherson said it was a good chance for those in the industry to have their say.
He also suggested tighter restrictions on the amount of tuna caught by charter and large groups of fishermen.
Dr Napthine said the government’s $16 million recreational fishing initiative was improving recreational fishing through projects to stock more fish, improve access and facilities, upgrade boating facilities, install fish-cleaning tables, improve fish passage, undertake more research and strengthen fisheries enforcement and education.
“By supporting, improving and encouraging recreational fishing in Victoria we are boosting regional economies and helping communities to thrive,” he said.
“A key focus is to strengthen engagement with fishers.
“These ideas from grass-root anglers are often the first step towards developing new projects that deliver significant benefits to recreational fishers and the regional businesses that depend on them.”
The forum will be held at Warrnambool and District Angling Club from 7pm to 9pm.