A resilient Recfishwest has celebrated a positive 12 months of making WA fishing better, despite unprecedented challenges to the recfishing sector and industry brought by COVID-19.
Speaking at the 2020 Annual General Meeting at Burswood on Swan earlier this week, Recfishwest Chairman Tim Bray spoke of the organisation’s ability to power on throughout the year and deliver a number of great initiatives that continue to make fishing even better in WA and fight the corner for recfishers on a number of big ticket issues.
“It is amazing that we’ve been able to continue to operate so swiftly and effectively this past 12 months while immunising the organisation from rainy days,” Tim said.
Board movers and shakers
Tim also confirmed well-known fisher and former Australian pole vaulter Emma George had been appointed as a new director alongside respected Perth lawyer Ian Sampson. Emma boasts a passion for fishing, highlighted by her Love The Outdoors website, and is set to bring plenty of WA angling experiences to the Recfishwest Board.
Avid diver and spearfisher Simon McLernon, along with environmental consultancy director and marine biologist Dean Thorburn, were both re-elected as elected directors.
Gold standard governance
Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland introduced the organisation’s new benchmark for governance – the Recfishwest Corporate Governance Statement, which captures the Board of Directors commitment to excellence in corporate governance and enhancing the interests of the association’s members.
The statement reflects both ASX and Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) best practice governance principles.
A year of many successes
Dr Rowland said the 2019/20 reporting period saw Recfishwest fighting the corner for recfishers on many fronts including crabbing management changes, changes to protect pink snapper spawning aggregations and battling hard to ensure any Cockburn Sound port development doesn’t impact recfishing.
He shone a light on Recfishwest’s ongoing consultation with State Government to protect the Exmouth Gulf from industrialisation with the Environmental Protection Authority currently assessing the cumulative impact of a number of proposed developments in the gulf.
The gulf is one of the truly special wilderness fishing areas in WA and the fishing experiences it provides needs to be recognised and protected, commented Dr Rowland.
“We’ve also focused on changing the paradigm and narrative on how we value fish abundance,” he said.
“Earlier this year, we launched the Salmon Economics Project with Premier Mark McGowan in Albany.
“West Aussies spend $330 million annually trying to catch salmon and the investment and opportunity created by salmon is thanks to the relatively great biomass out there – it is a great fishery for the rec sector.
“It is all part of our strategy in terms changing the narrative of how we value abundance and how we put the recfishing sector at the forefront of decision-makers relating to fisheries management.”
Creating more fishing opportunities
Dr Rowland highlighted many of the wins celebrated by the fishing community in 2019-2020 including the launch of the three-year State-wide FADs trial, which unlocked new sportfishing opportunities across WA, after devices were deployed off Albany, Cape Naturaliste, Perth, Exmouth and Broome.
He also reflected on the continued development of Recfishwest’s artificial reefs program and the intriguing potential to transform some North West underwater infrastructure into artificial reef complexes.
Recfishwest marched forward with its key fish stocking projects this past year, which included releasing 5,000 juvenile yellowtail kingfish from Fremantle as part of a WA-first initiative in June and launching the inaugural rainbow trout suburban stocking program at Austin Lakes Estate, South Yunderup.
WA’s recfishing community received a major boost in August when the McGowan Government revealed a multi-million-dollar COVID-19 recovery package package focused on fishing.
The package included three new artificial reefs, fish stocking programs and celebrating WA’s world-class fishing.
Powering the boat forward in the year ahead
Looking to the year ahead, Dr Rowland said Recfishwest had many more exciting projects in the pipeline.
From stocking more barramundi into Lake Kununurra – which will shortly see the millionth fish stocked since the program’s launch in 2013 – to the Seeds for Snapper project in Cockburn Sound with OzFish Unlimited and University of WA, to repurposing oil and gas into artificial reefs in the North West, marron stocking in Harvey Dam and exploring more suburban fish stocking opportunities, he said there is plenty on the agenda.
“With so much in front of us, we’re really excited to see what the next year holds for WA recfishers,” Dr Rowland said.