Recfishwest 2021 Annual General Meeting – celebrating a terrific 12 months for WA fishing

More places to fish and more fish to catch – Recfishwest has celebrated another successful 12 months working to make WA fishing even better.

From fish stocking, to ensuring new sportfishing opportunities through the State-wide FADs program and the deployment of the north metro artificial reef at a safe and accessible location, plenty has been achieved in the past year.

All of this, and more, was recognised at Recfishwest’s Annual General Meeting – held at Boating Industry Association of WA’s headquarters – last night alongside staff, Board members, supporters and members.

Read the Recfishwest 2020-21 Annual Report here

“It has been very rewarding to see significant progress on many fronts throughout the course of the reporting year,” Recfishwest Dr Andrew Rowland said.

“We’ve helped get more fish in the water, created more places to fish and fought to protect fishing access and what’s important to us as fishers.

“The AGM reflected on the hard work, dedication and commitment of the Recfishwest team – our staff, Board, members, supporters and partners.”

Outgoing Recfishwest Chairman Tim Bray with the 2020-21 Annual Report. Picture: Zach Relph / Recfishwest

Changing of the guard

Last night marked Recfishwest Chairman Tim Bray’s final AGM as part of the Board, with the charismatic figurehead taking a well-earned break from the Board after serving as a Director since 2012 including the past seven years as Chairman of Recfishwest.

“I’ve been extremely privileged to have been part of the Recfishwest Board,” Tim said.

“To everyone, thank you for your confidence, thank you for your support and most of all thank you for giving me the privilege to be a director and chairman of this wonderful organisation.

“I’m really looking forward to continuing to watch as Recfishwest goes from strength-to-strength.”

Dr Rowland acknowledged Tim for his achievements as Chairman, praising him for his passion and commitment while in the role.

“Drawing on his rich corporate experience in the boardroom, Tim has been pivotal in evolving Recfishwest’s strategic direction and culture,” he said.

“It has ensured we become a highly professional and highly regarded organisation at the top level.

“This has seen our influence shift from being a sidebar in the decision-making process to being right at its heart, driving the agenda for change to attain the best outcomes possible for our community.

“On behalf of myself, the Recfishwest team and the State’s 750,000 recreational fishers – thank you, Tim.”

Geoff Ellis and Liam Surridge were also re-elected as directors, while Ian Sewell was bestowed Recfishwest Life Membership.

Members, supporters and directors joined Recfishwest at the 2021 AGM.

Our leadership

In 2020-21, Recfishwest welcomed the support of our partners for 2021 — some new, some ongoing, but all with the common purpose — to help make fishing better.

We also played a significant role in ensuring the Broome and Derby fishing communities’ views were made heard during the State Government’s ongoing Buccaneer Archipelago marine parks process.

Fishers share many of the same values as Traditional Owners and we want a healthy environment with abundant fish stocks and to enjoy fishing with our families and friends!

Also, more than 1,600 fishers participate in the 2021 Salmon Slam – which is arguably Australia’s biggest fishing comp – during autumn salmon run.

It was great to have so many fishers participate in the app-based Slam, part of our Awesome Autumn of Salmon, to celebrate salmon as the iconic southern sportfish that they are.

Justin Lumsden is among fishers who competed in the 2021 Salmon Slam.

The team also attended this year’s GAMEX, the Ashburton Anglers’ MACK10K 2021 out of Onslow and King Bay Game Fishing Club’s Dampier Classic to better understand valued recfishing species as part of the Woodside-backed Fishing for Science program.

In COVID times fishing is more important than ever and in June, DPIRD announced a series of fishing rule changes to address widespread concerns about the impact more people holidaying in WA amid COVID-19 travel restrictions may be having on localised populations of demersal fish.

Recfishwest welcomed these changes, as they address concerns raised from within the recreational fishing community regarding notable increases in boat ramp traffic, particularly in holiday destinations like Exmouth and Shark Bay. Notably, these changes will be reviewed after one year once DPIRD has been able to better determine the impact COVID has had on fish stocks.

In December, Dr Rowland and the Recfishwest Board met with the Ports Minister and Fisheries Minister regarding the Westport Taskforce and Cockburn Sound’s proposed outer harbour development. Catch up with what happened here.

Recfishwest Board and CEO Dr Andrew Rowland around the table with Ministers Alannah MacTiernan and Peter Tinley, as well as DPIRD Director of Fisheries Science and Resource Assessment Dr Dan Gaughan and Westport Taskforce Chairperson Nicole Lockwood.

Creating fishing opportunities

The past 12 months also saw us launch Fish in the ‘Burbs, while we held another terrific Troutfest at Drakesbrook Weir.

That’s not to mentioned the thousands more fish were stocked across the State including barramundi into Lake Kununnurra, marron in the South West and yellowtail kingfish and pink snapper in the metro.

The State-wide fish aggregating device (FADs) program also continued to produce sensational sportfishing from Albany to Broome, with awesome fish including big dolphinfish and wahoo caught.

LKBSG president Dylan Hearty at the community release event which saw the one millionth barra released into Lake Kununurra. Picture: Zach Relph / Recfishwest

There was fantastic news for Perth boat fishers in May when each of the north metro artificial reef’s 293 modules are on the seabed at a safe and accessible spot 8km off Ocean Reef, too.

Looking forward to another great year

For the 12 months ahead, Dr Rowland said many more terrific projects were in the pipeline to help make WA fishing even better.

If you want to take an in-depth look into what else has taken place over the past 12 months, be sure to read out 2020-21 Annual Report in the link above.

Recfishwest’s Tim Grose fronts the cameras with Fisheries Minister Don Punch and Subcon’s Cameron Stirling, to launch the new and exciting north metro artificial reef. Picture: Zach Relph / Recfishwest