EXCLUSIVE: Angling groups unite to form new peak body

THE two major national organisations representing anglers have joined forces to work on creating a new peak body to take recreational fishing into the future.

RecFish Australia’s chairman Russell Conway and Australian Fishing Trade Association CEO Allan Hansard said today that they are working closely to formulate a peak body to act as an umbrella group for other angling organisations, both national and state-based.

The new organisation, which is likely to be known as the Australian Fishing Foundation, will have the support of all major angling groups and will enable Australia’s 5 million anglers to present a single unified voice to government on issues such as marine parks, extremist environmental campaigns and unsustainable commercial fishing, as well as promoting the positive socio-economic benefits of the recreational fishing sector.

“Along with leaders from other rec fishing organisations, Russell Conway and I have been working for several months on implementing the policies and strategies necessary to formulate a new peak organization representing Australian anglers,” AFTA’s Allan Hansard told Fisho today.

“We’re all working in unison towards the best interests of the rec-fishing sector. This is the first time anglers and angling groups have joined together and I think you will see a very powerful and influencial organisation emerge as a result.”

RecFish Australia would become “stronger and more relevant” as a result of the new peak body, Russell Conway said. “(Allan Hansard and I) have been working together at finding the right structure to represent anglers at a national level. You will find that a much stronger RecFish will emerge as a result of the current moves to formulate a new peak national body.”

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RecFish chairman Russell Conway

The RecFish chairman said possible future roles for RecFish would be as a “delivery arm” of the new peak body. “I would see that the new organisation would work with and use groups like RecFish, as well as the various state-based bodies and other important entities such as ANSA and the GFAA, to run multifaceted programs and campaigns where and as necessary.

“No one group or organisation can do everything needed to represent anglers in this country. That was what went wrong in the past. Now we are far more organised. We’ve learnt from our mistakes and now we all need to work together.”

Both rec-fishing leaders said there was a new sense of unity within the rec-fishing sector as a result of recent meetings and summits culminating in the highly successful Parliamentary Breakfast in Canberra in early March.

“Everyone is in the room together, everyone is talking,” RecFish’s Russell Conway said today. “It’s been great.”

The need for an effective peak body was highlighted in Martin Salter’s groundbreaking “Keep Australia Fishing” report, released last year. Since taking the reins at AFTA, Hansard, a highly experienced lobbyist and negociator, has been working with angling groups, top-level government advisors and politicians from both major parties to formulate policies bringing angling issues to the attention of decision-makers.

“This has been an interesting process,” Hansard said today.
“But we’ve come a long way towards reaching our goals. Probably the most important thing here is that we’re all working together.”

Hansard and Conway will release a joint statement on Thursday outlining the detail of the new peak body, how it will work, who it will represent, its funding strategies and its goals in regards to developing and protecting angling interests in this country.

Stay tuned to for full and exclusive details.

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