Our History

The Association was founded in 1988 as a limited liability company. It is run by a Committee of ten operators elected each year at the annual general meeting.

It seeks to represent all operators of vessels carrying paying passengers. Such operators include charter vessel operators on Sydney Harbour, operators of houseboat fleets, charter fishing vessels and operators of other commercial fleets such as tugs and work boats. It’s objective is quite specific: to help create an operating environment in which members can maximise their profitability.

In 1998, the Committee embarked on a program to increase membership and to better represent the industry to government by hiring a salaried chief executive. This position was filled by David Cribb and subsequently Warwick Fairweather after David’s death in early 2009.

At the time when David was hired, membership stood at a very low percentage of the State’s operators. Presently the membership represents a good cross section of the 1,500 charter boats in NSW. Most of the 250 vessels on Sydney Harbour are represented in the membership.

David Cribb was hired as Chief Executive in February 1998 and together with the president, Anthony Haworth of Captain Cook Cruises, he began his tenure with a round of visits to key individuals in government and the authorities, such as Government Ministers and the heads of the NSW Maritime Authority, Tourism NSW and Sydney Ports

Several key industry issues tackled to date include:

  • the large increase in Waterways annual fees
  • the large increase in Darling Harbour berthing fees which was resolved favourably for members
  • various infrastructure projects including King Street Wharf, at Rozelle and Blackwattle Bays and at Sydney Cove
  • proposed restrictions on charter fishing operators
  • the NSW crewing proposal
  • whale watching licences
  • a code of conduct for members

The Association has become recognised, as an authoritative and responsible representative of the industry. The Committee plans to build on this recognition to both get more “runs on the board” for members and to increase the number of members. It believes strongly that the industry can best achieve change, favourable to its members’ operating environments, by representing as many of them as possible. In addition, the more operators it says it can speak for, the stronger voice the committee has to take to government.

Partnerships with a few key suppliers are another important step we are undertaking in hastening the process of expanding membership to better represent the industry.