On Saturday September 10 RecFish SA in partnership with OzFish Unlimited, hosted its first Fishers for Fish Habitat forum at Port Noarlunga. The forum gathered recreational fishers from around the State, where they engaged with presentations from local and interstate fish habitat experts. Following this, participants took part in a field trip along the Onkaparinga River and helped to identify opportunities and priorities for an upcoming fish habitat rehabilitation project.
OzFish Unlimited is a not-for-profit organisation working to empower Aussie fishers take the future of the sport they love into their own hands, by being directly involved with the health of their rivers, lakes, bays and estuaries.
Being committed to building strong regional networks around the country, in South Australia OzFish has partnered with the recreational fishing peak body RecFish SA, to actively engage fishers and provide opportunities for them to get involved with fish habitat issues and on ground works.
RecFish SA Executive Director David Ciaravolo says that partnering with OzFish Unlimited was an easy decision to make, because local anglers are looking for avenues to get involved with improving the condition of the areas where they go fishing. “This partnership is all about growing community awareness and developing pathways for fishers to get stuck in and to become active custodians of their fisheries” he said.
“So far, we have found recreational fishers very keen to learn more about fish habitat, they are ready to get involved and want to make a difference” said Mr Ciaravolo.
RecFish SA Habitat Project Officer Dr. Travis Howson explained that fish rely on different parts of their environment throughout their life cycles and that building awareness of this, can help identify the areas where fishers can start working to make positive changes. “There are many factors which contribute to healthy fish habitat, in the case of a river like the Onkaparinga, we have to consider water flows, structure like tree stumps and rocks, as well as bank-side and in stream vegetation.
“It takes the right mix of all of these components to provide good fish habitat and through poor historical practices and the cumulative impacts of urbanisation, many systems are out of balance.
“Working with fishers to identify what is missing and establishing plans to remedy this, is what our OzFish partnership is all about.
“I am impressed by depth of understanding that fishers have about habitat types and their ability to identify the changes needed. They are on the water all the time and they want to become active custodians of the places which are important to them and their favourite fish species” said Dr. Howson.
This event is just the beginning of a project which intends to build a legacy around the state. A series of workshops is being developed for Onkaparinga river fishers, with another forum and further opportunities planned for other areas. “We had some participants travel hundreds of kilometres to come along and learn more about fish habitat and how they can get involved. It is amazing to see the OzFish message resonating with the community and we are looking forward to empowering fishers to get involved wherever they live” said Mr Ciaravolo.
We thank The Nature Conservancy Australia & The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation for funding the forum and the RecFish SA/OzFish partnership, respectively.
Fishers who are interested to get involved should sign up for RecFish SA membership or become an OzFish Unlimited member at www.ozfish.org.au
Or sign up below to be kept in the loop about future opportunities to learn more and get involved with tackling fish habitat issues.
David Ciaravolo – 0400 774 447
Executive Director, Communications, RecFish SA