He is was a man of the land, but Esperance’s Graham Cooper lives for the sea.
A farmer for much of his life who has also dabbled in fruit ’n’ veg, professional fishing and even owned a nursery at one stage, Graham is happiest these days on or around the ocean.
A keen deep sea fisherman and long-time active member of the Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club (EDSFC), Graham is also synonymous with rock fishing safety on the south coast and particularly around the town where he has lived for almost his entire life.
Now retired, he is one of a band of local volunteers who form the South East Recreational Fishing Council and tour local schools educating children about the importance of rock fishing safety.
The visits, which are supported by Recfishwest, include a 20-minute talk on rock fishing safety, prizes for all students and the chance to win major prizes for the best rock fishing safety drawings.
Graham’s commitment to rock fishing safety is typical of his passion for fishing, which has been a major part of his life, along with diving. Graham and the South East Coast Recreational Fishing Council have been instrumental in the installation of public safety equipment on the South Coast while promoting public awareness campaigns. Rock anchor points, Angel Rings and safety sign installations has kept Graham busy but what is more impressive is he has led a community team of local partners and government agencies to remain driven to keep fishers safer around Esperance.
Now 70, Graham has given up diving, but still loves to wet a line and also loves to put back into the pastime.
He’s been involved with the EDSFC since its inception in the late ‘80s, as has his wife of more than 40 years, Lauren. Both are life members of the club. The dynamic duo have helped man the radio for the fishing club for many years, and continue to do so, especially when the local annual fishing competition is on in March each year.
Graham was on the local Recreational Fishing Advisory Committee until it finished and it was from there that his interest in rock fishing safety initially grew.
Graham was also actively involved with the local sea rescue group for a couple of decades.
Even when he’s not near the water, it’s still on Graham’s mind, as he can often be found helping his son at his Esperance boat dealership.
Apparently saltwater runs through the veins of both father and son. After decades of service to the Esperance recreational fishing community, Graham is continuing to give back to the community he loves and for this reason he is this months Recfishwest’s Community Champion.