The recreational fishing industry in Australia is extremely important. The FRDC has invested in development of responsible programs for innovative and outcome focused recreational fisheries management initiatives, with strong emphasis on empowering young leaders.
This project is based on the initiative of previous projects 2008-319 and 2006-314 relating to the 5th and 7th World Congresses respectively. Both were highly successful in providing an opportunity for future leaders to embark upon leadership and management careers which has resonated at the national, state and local level. The opportunity exists following the 8th World Recreational Fishing Conference in Vancouver Canada to establish a program based on merit-awarded bursaries to build on and enhance previous successful projects and provide significantly better outcomes beyond conference attendance.
One of the great strengths of this project is the networking and exchange of ideas among participants. Applications will be encouraged from young future leaders, young researchers with demonstrated communication and extension skills, and people in associated industries such as aquaculture or commercial fisheries. The project will also extend invitations to other Australian delegates to the conference, to be full paying participants of the study tour.
Canada and Australia share many common interests in fisheries management and administration. There will be delegates from around the world, with a strong presence from the UK, Europe and central America. There will be delegates from New Zealand and South Africa which will also allow strong, relevant networking for bursary winners. The close proximity, and expected strong presence of the United States is an additional advantage for the study tour.
There are significant benefits in being able to see innovative programs and their champions on site or in operation. Issues to be examined include - resource allocation between and among sectors, managing tourism and interactions between guided and non-guided fishers, community based education programs, fish passage and habitat maintenance, first nation management issues and social licence to operate.
The 8th World Recreational Fishing Conference, held in Vancouver Canada in July 2017 was seen as an opportunity to build on previous educational and leadership opportunities associated with the 5th and 7th conferences, and to hopefully develop a new tranche of young leaders for the recreational fishing sector.
Through the Recfishing Research subprogram of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), an application was made for a delegation to attend the conference and to conduct a study tour after the conference.
With a high standard of applicants, the project was enhanced to allow participants from all jurisdictions in Australia to attend. The group (13) included some working in existing leadership roles, scientist and grass root fishers. The bursary recipients composed a part of the Australian contingent of 38 (second largest) at the conference.
Although there were some challenges with the timing of the application process, some bursary recipients were able to take part in the conference, with a total of 6 presentations. All sessions of the conference were attended and summarised for this report and for a significant following on social media (Facebook).
Following the conference, the bursary recipients investigated salmon and halibut allocation and management processes, habitat restoration following natural and human impacts, the white sturgeon fishery and management of wilderness fishing for cut throat and bull trout. Key areas which drove fisheries, management and fishery related projects were the roles of hatchery fish, community education and advocacy processes.
There was considerable international interest in the FRDC structured study tour at the conference with several countries looking to emulate the program for the next World Recreational Fishing Conference.
The participants in the study tour performed extremely well, gelling together as a groups and operating as a team for all the tasks that they were given. They have been able to identify synergies with issues or opportunities investigated in Canada and have started to develop strategies and procedures for integrating several elements in Australia. Participants have identified personal development strategies and support networks to assist them with progressing these issues, the PI and also the FRDC will also be working to ensure participants have opportunities to further develop in the future.
There were many key leadership and development learnings within this project, however the compressed nature of the application process to tour meant there was little time for planning which would have been ideal for participants to connect prior to the trip. Most other of the elements of this study tour should be replicated should there be future opportunities for people in recreational fishing and associated industries to undertake a study tour.