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Tuesday, 21 August 2012

National Recreational Fishing Conference 2012

Well just got back from the National Recreation Fishing conference in warm Queensland, well where do I start? With over 160 delegates from around Australia and over 40 presenters with wide and varied backgrounds speaking on a range of broad issues over the two day conference, stimulation thought and discussion. The opening address  by Senator Joe Ludwig was followed by Key note speaker Martin Slater, National Campaigns Coordinator, angling Trust UK, spoke on meeting international challenges for recreational fishing, Karen Schmidt, Engagement expert, spoke on meeting challenges on leadership transitions, Nathan Johnston, executive officer Fitzroy partnership for river health and Matt Gillett policy officer Recfish west both spoke on the challenges from a young fishers perspective, Chris Hunt(USA) Trout Unlimited and Simon Evans (uk) Wye and Usk foundation both spoke on meeting the challenges of restoring our fisheries habitat.

Grahame Pike co-founder of Recfish Australia had an inspiring  talk in the art and politics of influencing governments, Christopher Collins from VRFish on the economical contributions that recreational anglers make to the economy, Dr Liz Baker NSW dpi, recreational fishers the key decision  makers for the future, Prof Alexandra McManus CESSH, the health benefits and wellbeing of recreational fishing, Matt Gillett & Frank Prokop Recfishwest, on young future leaders, Dave Donald Barradive sportfishing services, on recreational fishing and tourism on Cape York, Geoff Rowling from NZ with an insight into NZ  recreational fishers challenges, Tony Steiner ANSA NSW, understanding the importance of recreational fishing to Australia society, Dallas D’Silva DPI Vic climate change and fishing in south east Australia, Dr Peter Ward from DAFF ACT a social-economic evaluation on three eastern game fishing regions, and that rapped up the business for the first day, with the formal Recfish Awards Conference dinner that evening, which was a trill to be part off, I will go through the award nominations and winners in a later post, but the night was full of great company, some fantastic food and entertainment from a band and as guest speaker we were thoroughly entertained by the Steve Starling.

The second day of the conference was set to be even bigger than the first, as we gathered it was obvious that some had enjoyed the night before a little too much, the second day saw Melanie Young from Young gun adventures spoke about recreational fishing to Australian society, Fern Hames, MDBA spoke on the native fish strategy, Kim Martin ANSA Qld why effective leadership will needed to advance recreational fishing, Jeremy Lyle UTAS gave some details of recent studies on the demographics of anglers, Matt Barwick from Recfish research spoke about cooperation being the key to better fishing  outcomes, Dr Jacki Shirmer University of Canberra on who benefits from recreational fishing, Judy Lynne & Barry Pollock from Sunfish Qld on fisheries co management trials, Stephen Taylor DAFF, on profiling the characteristics of anglers in Qld, Alyce Parker Vic DPI on the Victoria’s recreational fishing initiative and connecting with young fishers, Tim Hoile from the Marine discovery centre SA on how to catch young fishers, Davied Green fishing journalist about the next wow in fishing tackle, Colin Creighton FRDC on where to repair fishing habitats, Alan Izzard Bass Sydney fishing club on being responsible fishers, Heath Folpp NSW fisheries, on opportunities for new artificial reefs, Stan Konstantaras, on Angel rings and how they are saving lives of rocj fishers in NSW, Craig Copeland DPI NSW about habitat making fish happy, Dr Ben Diggles on media and fish welfare, Andrew Rowland Recfishwest about recreational fishers working to protect the ecological and social values, Bill Sawynok Infofish on catch and release, Zeb Tonkin from the Aurthor Rylah institute Vic, assessing instream wood habitat in Victoria, Peter Kind DAFF, a successful example of  community cooperation fishery monitoring, Keith Rowling PIRSA on the great work Redmap is doing in community science, Dee McElligott NSW DPI on fishcare programs, Andrew Norris DAFF on habitat enhancement for improving anglers experience.  The final day was finished with a group discussion on the way to move forward and closing address by Partick Hone FRDC.

To summarise the main points made over the two days I would say that a few things stood out and in most cases were talked about from a few different people with a slightly different perspective, they were rebuilding lost habitat, helping young people develop into leadership rolls, the benefit of fishing to not only individual but the greater community and that currently anglers do a great deal for the environment and community which is not being recognised.
Habitat enhancement is been clearly shown to be the tool to use to increase not only fish stocks but improve the situation of other species, the more breeding, nursery and spawning areas we can create will have a direct correlation to our fish numbers,  and instead of arguing about how much of the current pie everyone gets we should be concentrating on increasing the size of the pie, something I totally agree with and have been trying to promote for some time, it’s great to see that the science backs up this and I look forward to more being done in this area.

Leadership programs that help young people step up into these leadership rolls is vital if we are to not only inject new blood into these areas but vital if we are to move forward, what was a very big surprise was the demographics of anglers, it clearly showed that while our population has increased since 1995 the number of active fishers has decreased, and that the greatest proportion of anglers are adults in child raising years as well as young kids, which clearly shows that families make up the majority of active anglers across this country, other studies also showed that people that were satisfied with their fishing were also satisfied or very satisfied with their life, and if the amount of fishing dropped this had a direct correlation with life satisfaction levels , only 20 % of anglers started fishing after the age of 20. Clearly shows how important it is to get younger people more involved in leadership rolls.
Anglers are responsible for some great environmental work, and have a high rate in participation on this area, 94% of Qld anglers contacted agreed to participate in a 12 month catch study, some of the most amazing habitat programs are done by angling groups, as well as this fishing has been shown to aid in surgery recovery, self-esteem for trouble youths and improved the lives of those with disabilities, fishing has the potential to save millions of dollars form our health system. It also injects a large amount of money into our economy which is especially important in our regional areas that lack other industries.
Over the next few months I will expand on some of these issues in detail, but It would be negligent if was to finish and I didn’t mention the sponsors that made this inspiring event possible, Department of Agriculture Fisheries and forestry, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Recreational Fishing Trust, Fish Habitat Network, Australian Communications and Media Authority,  ABT fishing tournaments, Australian Fishing Trade Association, Primary Industries and Regions SA, The Murray Darling Basin Authority, Recfish Research, Recfish Australia, Department of Primary industries NSW, Redmap, Sunfish QLD, Infofish.  Also a big thanks must go to the volunteers that organised this event.

The conference was inspiring not only with what people had to say but how they said it, there are a lot of passionate people involved in this, and let’s hope that at least some of these ideas can be expanded over the coming years.

The confrence was set at the Gold Coast convention centre a very short stroll to some water that held a very good number of Bream, Whiting, Luderick and tailor, but as I didn’t bring my rod I could only watch.

On a personal note I would like to thank all the people that made it possible for me to attend this great conference, it exceeded all my expectations was well run and inspiring, it was great to finally meet people that I have only ever spoken to on the phone or chatted online, and others I met for the first time, some great conversations were had at the conference, and some even more over dinner, it was humbling to be among some of these people that work to keep us fishing, and most do it and have done for years with no monetary reward.


  1. Excellent work Daniel, sounds like you didn't waste your time there. Your cohorts at wefish would I expect be pleased with your overview, after reading your summary it almost feels as though I was there with you :'(..... Jealous. Ha ha nice work mate.

  2. Fantastic work Dan a credit to you and We Fish

  3. Great insight into what goes on Dan, and thanks for all the hard work and dedication you put into this.

  4. It’s great to be able to read what happens at these conferences, keep up the good work wefish team!