World Recreational Fishing Conference

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Katrina and I attended the World Recreational Fishing Conference back in February ( 2023), and we are so grateful that we did.

Held every three years, there have been nine previous World Recreational Fishing Conferences (WRFCs), from the inaugural conference in Dublin in 1996 to WRFC 9 held in Rotterdam in 2021.

Each WRFC has built on previous conferences, building an informed community in recreational fisheries worldwide and creating a collective body of knowledge in the growing discipline of recreational fisheries science. The conferences have helped develop a collaborative global community of researchers, managers, NGOs, industry representatives and government regulators that are developing and standardizing research approaches while working towards solutions for recreational fisheries issues.

This is only the second time this event has been hosted in Australia, with the first being in Darwin back on the 21-24 of May 2002. I must say it was a credit to the Victorian Fisheries Authority for organising and running this year’s fantastic event.

We kicked off the weekend prior to the conference, starting by attending the Ultimate Fishing Expo, which saw some of our country’s most noted anglers and communicators sharing their experiences and tips to improve your fishing, from squid and snapper to tuna and billfish. Presenters included Lee Rayner, Lubin Pfieffer, Colby Lesko, Indai Thompson, April Vokey and Robson Green, to name just a few!
A highlight was meeting Robson Green of Extreme Fishing fame – who is such a genuinely passionate angler and spoke on the health benefits of recreational fishing.
We attended the welcome function and partook in our first smoking ceremony hosted by Daniel Ross, who is a proud Wurundjeri Man. He explained this ceremony as like getting home from work and taking a shower to wash away the day and clean your feet, as you may not know where you have walked… “I would like to show my respects and acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Land on which this meeting took place and to Elders past and present”.
Chief Executive Officer of the WRFC host organisation, the Victorian Fisheries Authority, Travis Dowling, warmly welcomed the 350+ delegates from 21 countries to open the event. The headline conference theme for WRFC10 was – Keeping Pace in a Dynamic and Challenging World with Changing Fisheries. This is an ode to the fluid and rapidly changing landscape and acknowledges the challenges for researchers, managers and anglers involved in recreational fisheries.

The WRFC is the preeminent and largest international recreational fisheries conference attracting fisheries experts, researchers, policymakers, industry and anglers from around the globe. They come together to share their science, their issues, their experiences, failures, successes and vision. And together they unite to learn about current research trends, scientific breakthroughs, to network, to share problems and produce solutions.
Sascha Clark Danylchuck is the executive officer of “Keep Fish Wet”, a US-based non-profit with a mission to help anglers improve the outcome for each fish they release delivered a thought-provoking talk about science-based best practices for catch-and-release. More information at:-
Founder and CEO of OzFish Craig Copeland shared the challenging journey of our country’s leading fish habitat and aquatic conservation advocacy organisation. More information at:-
Delegates from the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust again shared some thought-provoking presentations which clearly showed our biggest challenges outside of overfishing are preserving fish habitats and water quality. Luckily we have so many passionate people working towards addressing these vital areas. With broad behaviour change, we can work towards improving and rehabilitating our nurseries and better managing our fisheries. More information at:-
India Thompson provided a number of enthusiastic and inspiring presentations on the fantastic Tuna Champions project. If you fish for tuna and enjoy eating them and have not checked out the Tuna Champions website & social media pages – get onto it here
Robson Green presented a genuinely passionate keynote at #wrfc10, highlighting the fact that recreational fishing is good for you 😉
Andy Moore released the latest National Recreational Fishing Survey – which states more than one in five of us are recreational fishers, and we create 100,000 jobs generating $11 billion worth of expenditure every year!

We need our decision-makers to understand this fully, and with broad behaviour change, we can work towards protecting, improving and rehabilitating our nurseries and better managing our fisheries.

You can download the full report here –

We also attended the WRFC 10 Gala Dinner & Awards Ceremony, which was held at the Melbourne Museum.
It was great to see William ( Bill ) Sawynock awarded the Best angler-led data collection project – congrats, mate!
It was great seeing Cameron Westerway acknowledged for his commitment and work in fisheries – we often caught up at Gaden trout hatchery when we owned the Alpine Angler tackle store.
I was incredibly proud to receive a print of the stunning logo for the World Recreational Fishing Conference 10, based on the stunning artwork by the very talented Yorta Yorta artist and Elder Uncle Norman Stewart.

More about Uncle Norm and his art can be found here:

It was fitting that Rex Hunt (who unfortunately could not attend due to illness) was given a
Significant Recognition Award at WRFC10 for a lifetime of improving recreational fishing in
Australia and around the world. Photo courtesy of Fishing World

Yibbida yibbida, and that’s all, folks!

The 10th World Recreational Fishing Conference represented an incredibly special meeting, a brilliant kaleidoscope of diverse people and talks – a collective of minds and hearts – sharing a space for equal conversations and the cross-pollination of ideas.

We extend a massive thanks to all the people who came and contributed – this was for you, and you made it so marvellous!

Thanks to all the sponsors and partners that made this event possibility an amazing reality: FRDC, Fisheries Queensland, The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Australian Society for Fish Biology, OzFish Unlimited, VRFish, Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation, Futurefish Foundation, Australian Trout Foundation Inc.

wrfc10 #conference #internationalfishfamily #victorianfisheriesauthority #community #fisheries #fishing #fishscience #keepfishwet #catchandrelease #recreationalfishing #fishing

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