A Bundaberg whale watching cruise operator is facing police charges after he allegedly took a packed vessel out to sea without a licence.
A Bundaberg whale watching cruise operator is facing police charges after he allegedly took a packed vessel out to sea without a licence.

Whale watch operator charged over alleged unlicensed cruise

A Queensland whale watching cruise operator has been charged after he allegedly operated a vessel with tourists while he did not have a licence.

It will be alleged Ian Brookfield, of Bundaberg Whale Watching, took passengers out on the vessel Emelie for a whale watching experience despite not holding an appropriate licence.

He allegedly did that after the vessel's skipper failed to turn up for work.

Police and Australian Maritime Safety Authority officers detained the vessel on its return to Burnett Heads jetty from a tour with a group of passengers on September 11, 2019.

Ian Brookfield of Bundaberg Whale Watching has been charged for operating a cruise without a licence.
Ian Brookfield of Bundaberg Whale Watching has been charged for operating a cruise without a licence.

The boat was immediately seized and an investigation launched.

At the time the investigation was launched, Bundaberg Detective Andrew Self said it was a concern for any boat operating unlicensed, and if a problem were to arise in relation to that, it would require a mammoth rescue effort.

"If anything were to go wrong, it would take a significant amount of resources to conduct a rescue of that size," he said.

"It is a concern for police if anyone operates a commercial vessel unlicensed."

Mr Brookfield was this week charged by the AMSA with operate vessel in contravention of Certificate of Operation, operate the vessel without a COC (deck qualification) and; general safety obligations.

The matter will be heard in Bundaberg Magistrates Court on August 31. Investigations are ongoing.

Originally published as Whale watching operator charged over unlicensed cruise


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