Fishability launches new Perth vessel to help people with disabilities enjoy the magic of fishing on the Swan River!

Recfishwest and Fisheries Minister Don Punch joined fishing charity Fishability at the Royal Perth Yacht Club on the Swan River to launch its fantastic, new 8.75m specially adapted boat to give people with disabilities the opportunity to experience fishing.  

The hull of the boat, named the Nev Thomas II, after Fishability founder Nev Thomas, has been funded through a $80,000 grant from the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.  

Like its predecessor, the Nev Thomas, the spacious pontoon has special adaptations that allow up to eight people with disabilities and their carers to fish comfortably and safely for tailor, bream, flathead, whiting and many other species. 

In some additional great news for this important program, the Minister also announced a further $100,000 in RFIF funding for Fishability to assist with its operational costs over the next two years.

For more than 20 years, Fishability has provided recreational fishing opportunities for children and adults with disabilities and Recfishwest is a keen partner and advocate for the great work the charity does. 

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “Everyone should be able to enjoy the many benefits and great pleasure in wetting a line – including people with disabilities. Recfishwest is delighted to see the Nev Thomas II launched today with the support of the Minister and RFIF funding to help achieve this aspiration. 

“Not only will fishers with disabilities continue to be able to safely enjoy catching the great Metro species on offer here on the city’s doorstep – the original Nev Thomas has been relocated to Albany to help boost Fishability’s program in the Great Southern. 

“We also welcome today’s $100,000 RFIF funding announcement for Fishability over the next two years to help support these fantastic volunteer-run programs.”  

The $50,000 cost of the two 60 horsepower engines, fishing and safety gear and first aid equipment was funded through a Lotterywest grant, while the Royal Perth Yacht Club is kindly penning the vessel free of charge. 

Fishability Chairman Wayne Bowen said “Fishing is a treasured part of our wonderful WA lifestyle, and everyone should be able to enjoy it – including people with disabilities – and that’s exactly what this boat is going to do here in Perth and also indirectly for our Albany program too. 

“We’d like to thank the Royal Perth Yacht Club and all our fantastic partners, supporters and sponsors who help initiatives like this happen.” 

Fisheries Minister Don Punch, who is also the Minister for Disability Services said, “Supporting Fishability helps to enhance the quality of life of the participants and is so important in creating friendships and opportunities for the disability community in Western Australia. 

“It provides a platform to develop life skills and self-confidence and breaks down isolation through inclusive and quality recreational fishing experiences.” 

Want to make a booking with Fishability for yourself or someone you know? Click here! 

Volunteers bringing fishing joy to people with disabilities honoured at Fishability Awards night

Fishing is a treasured lifestyle for more than 700,000 people across WA — and we strongly believe everyone should be able to have access to it, including fishers with disabilities. 

That is why Recfishwest is delighted to see the efforts and feats of 23 volunteers, who are actively delivering fishing programs and activities for people with disabilities across the State, be honoured at the recent annual awards for our partners Fishability. 

“As all fishers in Western Australia experience for themselves, fishing provides enormous mental, physical, wellbeing and social benefits,” Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said.  

“Fishability shares Recfishwest’s goals in ensuring great fishing experiences for all in the WA community, helping more people of all abilities experiencing fishing and all the benefits it provides. The volunteers who were honoured at these awards have done a great job in encouraging more people to venture out on to the water, wet a line and enjoy what fishing has to offer.”  

Some of Fishability’s Unsung Hero Award winners, Robert Hancock (left), Paul Taylor (centre), Timothy Jackson (right) and Caroline Taylor (front).

Fishability recognised the efforts of volunteers from Albany on the south coast up to Geraldton in our Mid-West, with 12 awards and 11 service pins presented. 

The winners of the Fishability Chairman’s Award were Aldo Mendolia and Mark Gwynne, celebrating the 12th year that the pair have organised at least one annual fishing trip for Fishability participants and their carers aboard their premier charting fishing vessel, the Top Gun II — all free of charge.

The Top Gun II vessel is a big hit each year for taking people with disabilities and their carers out to enjoy a day’s fishing for free, thanks to its kind Fishability volunteers Aldo Mendolia and Mark Gwynne. Image: Fishability.

Another recipient of the Fishability Patron’s Unsung Hero Award was Mandurah’s Steve Grandison, who has worked tirelessly in his metal work, anti-fouling, sanding, repainting work and volunteer skippering of the MV Fishability, the 8.5m purpose-built boat specially adapted to accommodate fishers in wheelchairs.  

The MV Fishability is an 8.5m purpose-built boat specially adapted to accommodate fishers in wheelchairs and the recent Fishability Awards honoured Steve Grandison who worked tirelessly in maintaining this vessel for multiple fishing trips.

Recfishwest congratulates all the following Fishability award winners and individuals recognised for their years of service. 

Nev Thomas Award

John May and Ed Szydlowski


Chairman’s Award

Aldo Mendolia and Mark Gwynne 


Patron’s Unsung Hero Awards 

Geraldton – Chris Wilson 

Perth North – Caroline and Paul Taylor 

Perth South – Bob Hancock 

Mandurah/Waroona – Steve Grandison 

Busselton – Tim Jackson 

Albany – Maureen Hanna 


Life Membership

John Staples


Five Years of Service

Perth – Rod Baker  

Perth – Mike Concannon  

Geraldton – Lyn Kendle 

Geraldton – David Meder 

Mandurah – Lisette Laval  

Mandurah – Mike Neagle  

Mandurah – Brian Neville  

Mandurah – Gilber Turner 

Busselton – Jim Wright


Ten Years of Service  

Mandurah – Ian Metcalf 

Mandurah – Brian Young


Recfishwest applauds the Fishability team for everything they do to help more people access and enjoy WA’s amazing fishing, with funds from licence fees helping support and improve fishing access and experiences for people with disabilities through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.