On the 18-19 June, 2009 eighty participants converged on Ballina, north coast NSW, for the first ever Fishers for Fish Habitat Forum.
Recreational fishers from across NSW and interstate joined Department staff, natural resource managers and scientists to learn more about the importance of healthy habitat for the sport they enjoy.
The 2 day event included formal presentations, poster sessions, interactive discussions, a field visit to the lower Richmond catchment and a dinner with national fishing identity, Steve “Starlo” Starling.
The presentations included:
- Bream, bass and blackfish: The status of the NSW recreational fishery by Dr. Charles Gray, Research Leader, Wild Fisheries, NSW DPI
- Habitat makes fish happen! What native fish need to survive and thrive by Craig Copeland, Manager, Conservation Action Unit, NSW DPI
- International news: Fisher-driven habitat initiatives overseas by Charlotte Jenkins, Conservation Action Unit, NSW DPI
- Resistance Vs Resilience: Climate change implications on fish in NSW by Andrew Goulstone, Manager, Fisheries Planning & Operations, NSW DPI
- Where to from here? by Charlotte Jenkins, Conservation Action Unit, NSW DPI
Participants were invited to complete surveys on Day one to enable organisers to determine the views of participants towards habitat, the level of habitat knowledge and involvement in habitat projects.
In order to evaluate the success of the Forum participants also provided comments on evaluation forms at the end of Day 2.
One of the most important things learnt from the Forum was that there are many recreational fishers who are committed to improving the condition of fish habitat. While the messages about fish habitat need to be accepted by the broad community of recreational fishers and by the public in general, the message from the Forum is that we are not alone in our interest or our efforts.
The results of the survey, interactive discussion sessions and evaluation forms have been collated into a Report for Participants.
The forum was a huge success.
The enthusiasm for the Fishers for Fish Habitat project was shared by all participants and there was strong support for a similar event in the future.
This passion is highlighted in the editorial of the Hastings Fly Fishers newsletter (July edition):
- ‘On June 18th and 19th I attended the inaugural Fishers for Fish Habitat Forum held in Ballina. I thought I knew a little about fish habitat and I was right. I knew a little. I now know a lot more. The persons behind the organisation of the conference are to be congratulated and I hope that there will be subsequent conferences. If there are then I recommend attendance by all who can manage it. Government depts cop a great deal of criticism which sometimes it could be argued is warranted. However, in this case the government departments behind the fish habitat conference receive a deserved pat on the back’ Bob Dove, editor.
- And in the fishing section of the Northern Star (26 June 2009):
‘The Fishers for Fish Habitat Forum at Ballina late last week was such a success that next year’s event promises to be bigger and even better. It was a bold step to try to convey to the general angling public how important a healthy ecosystem is to fish numbers – would your average fishos really give a hoot? Looks like they do.’ Tony Zann, journalist.