By Catherine Norwood
The first national Gone Fishing Day, held in October 2016, has been hailed a great success, with NSW leading the way with six major events that attracted 15,000 registered participants.
The event provided a platform for the launch of the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation’s (ARFF) new National Recreational Fishing Code of Practice, which promotes best practice by recreational fishers. Assistant Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Anne Ruston, assisted by NSW Fisheries Minister Niall Blair, officially launched the code on Gone Fishing Day.
“What’s in the code is common sense, and most fishers do it anyway,” says Allan Hansard, managing director of ARFF, which was one of the partner organisations behind the event. “But we want to get a message to the broader community that recreational fishers are responsible members of the community and stewards of the fish resources they access.”
The key principle that underpins the code of practice is respect, he says: respect for the fish being caught, whether they are released or kept for the table; respect for the environment; and respect for fishers themselves, including personal safety, when they venture out.
The new code of practice is an update on the national code first developed almost a decade ago by Recfish Australia. Funding from the federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources assisted its redevelopment.
Allan Hansard says the revised code gives the ARFF the opportunity to launch a revitalised communications campaign. Different versions of the code will be prepared for different audiences – for example, versions specifically for children and for recreational fishers in migrant communities.
He says high-profile recreational fishers in the media already personify and model best practice in the way they fish. “But we hope they can be more explicit about the code of practice, and that it is something recreational fishers follow. It’s not just about getting the message to recreational fishers, but also to the broader community, including government.”
He says government support for the recreational sector is already strong, with the NSW Department of Fisheries providing grants to help clubs run Gone Fishing Day events. But the recreational sector, like the commercial sector, faces the challenge of access to the resource. A well-defined, widely acknowledged and adopted code of practice is part of securing support for access to fisheries.
National Gone Fishing Day is part of a larger agenda for the ARFF, which aims to raise community awareness about the value of recreational fishing and improve fishing opportunities for recreational fishers. Across Australia, 130 official Gone Fishing activities were reported, which would have attracted many thousands of people, Allan Hansard says. “And there would have been many others who just took the opportunity to go fishing with their family or friends on the day, without being part of any particular event,” he says.
The National Recreational Fishing Code of Practice can be downloaded from the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation website.
The 2017 National Gone Fishing Day will be held on Sunday 15 October.
I will respect and appreciate the fish that I catch.
I will respect other fishers and members of our community.
I will demonstrate care for fish and the environment I fish in through my actions.
I will respect, protect and restore wildfire habitats.
Allan Hansard, firstname.lastname@example.org