Whale watching tour operators face uncertain season
THE whale season is upon us and the whales are already swimming past our coast, signalling another incredible year of whale watching.
The bad news is whale watching operators face a difficult season as social distancing regulations make it difficult to operate in a viable manner.
One charter boat operator that is still able to take tours while adhering to social distancing regulations is Out of the Blue Adventures.
Owner/operator Dean Fuchs said they had already seen a couple of whales this week and were excited to get back out on the water.
"We understand the importance of the current regulations and will be operating at a greatly reduced capacity with four square metres of space for each person." Mr Fuchs said.
"It is our utmost priority to keep our guests safe at all times, we are only hoping that with future easing restrictions, the necessary consideration is taken so our industry is not left behind, and it is economically viable for us to continue operating once it is safe to do so.
"We are lucky to have a large enough vessel to safely adhere to social distancing regulations.
"Unfortunately a lot of other operators with smaller vessels are having to close their doors."
He said despite the uncertain times, the whales continue to grace us with their presence.
"It is exciting to see the east coast population of whales thriving," he said.
Blue Bay Whale Watching co-owner Christina Gray said they were watching government regulations closely to see when any changes might come into play in regards to smaller vessels that do not have the available space to accommodate the four square metre rule.
"The four months of whale watching are the busiest time of year for our small business and we need the whale watching income to get through the rest of the year," she said.
"Having said that, we totally understand the need for social distancing rules under the current pandemic and we are 100 per cent prepared to do the right thing."
A NSW government spokesperson said further announcements about the easing of COVID-19 restrictions will be made in line with health advice in due course.