Future leaders in Australia’s recreational fishing sector share how attending the 10th World Recreational Fishing Conference have inspired them in their current roles supporting their local recreational fishing communities.
Among the participants at the 10th World Recreational Fishing Conference in Melbourne earlier this year were several FRDC-sponsored delegates, gaining valuable insight to support the sector as part of the FRDC’s emerging leaders in recreational fishing initiative.
The conference itself was centred around the theme of “keeping pace in a dynamic and challenging world with changing fisheries”.
Fisheries experts, policymakers and anglers from around the world led discussions about the challenges faced by fisheries. This included overfishing, habitat destruction, climate change and pollution.
To enhance the ongoing development of the recreational fishing sector in Australia, FRDC supported a diverse range of participants to attend, build their knowledge of the sector, share their own expertise and network.
A key strategy identified at the conference was the need for a more holistic and integrated approach to ecosystem-based and science-informed management. Recreational fishers are an “underutilised tool” in the fisheries ecosystem, delegates heard. The recreational fishing community is often passionate and on the front line of fisheries issues.
Speakers highlighted the need for clear communication and an understanding of fishers’ motivations in order to effectively harness their stewardship, leadership and advocacy.
Kelly says he is very passionate about representing and communicating the needs of recreational fishers to researchers and industry and, in turn, passing on important science to recreational fishers.
“The conference was an eye-opener,” Kelly says. “It was incredible to see all the scientific work going on, but it needs to be better communicated to the recreational fishers. I want to improve the conduit between what research is going on in the background and what value it has to recreational fishers.”
“Seeing the connections with the scientific community, the discussions and networking and having my eyes opened to what is happening around the nation and the world, was really invigorating.”
As a result, he has thrown his energy into communicating the science behind policies with recreational fishers and into efforts to repurpose redundant structures in the marine environment as safe angling points for recreational fishers.
Fostering a community
Kristin Goodchild, a board member and secretary at RecFish SA with a significant social media presence, is another emerging leader who was sponsored to attend the conference.
“The key learnings I gained from the 10th World Recreational Fishing Conference will undoubtedly shape my career as a future leader in the field,” Kristin says.
Her personal goal is to balance conservation with angler satisfaction. She highlights valuable insights from the conference as including the need for holistic adaptive management, collaboration and communication, technology integration, an ecosystem-based approach and community-driven programs.
“Incorporating these learnings into my career as a leader in the recreational fishing space will not only help advance sustainable fishing practices, but also ensure that the voices and interests of recreational anglers are heard and protected,” she says.
“My role as a board member and my social media presence, will be vital in advocating for positive change and fostering a thriving fishing community.”
Inspired by the new knowledge and connections gained from the 10th World Recreational Fishing Conference, these future leaders have been able to take this new motivation to further support recreational fishing communities and their needs.