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Craig

Craig Copeland

Year of Award: 2012 Award State: New South Wales Environment > General
To investigate the motivation of recreational fishers to restore fish habitat - USA, Ireland, UK
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Since European settlement much of Australia’s freshwater and coastal habitat has been lost or degraded, reducing the size of the fishery.

Efforts to restore these habitats have been minor in comparison to the extent of loss. In addition these efforts have been largely unsupported by recreational fishers. This is in stark contrast to significant efforts by recreational fishers in the USA, UK and Ireland where recreational fishing groups and individual fishers are among the principal partners in managing fish habitat.

Recreational fishing has significant social and economic significance in Australia. Over 3 million people fish recreationally each year and it is therefore one of the most significant outdoor activities undertaken by Australians.
In addition a survey in the Murray‚ÄźDarling Basin estimated that expenditure on recreational fishing was worth over $1.3 billion per annum to the Basin economy alone and employing over 10,900 people.

Both the existing sustainability of recreational fishing and the capacity of this sector to grow are dependent on healthy fish stocks. Scientific research has indicated that for freshwater and estuarine species, which are the main fish targeted by fishers, the extent and quality of fish habitats dictate how many fish are produced into the fishery.

In response to the apparent disparity in involvement by recreational fishers in fish habitat management and to try and increase the capabilities of recreational fishers in NSW the Fishers for Fish Habitat Program commenced in 2009. This has had some success in increasing involvement of recreational fishers in habitat actions. Part of the program involved the creation of a network of people in NSW interested in fish habitat (the Fish Habitat Network – FHN). FHN has now expanded to all mainland states.

My Churchill program has increased my understanding of recreational fishers so that I can improve the engagement of recreational fishers in habitat management in Australia by;

  • seeing first hand habitat works undertaken by recreational fishers in USA, Ireland and the UK
  • discussing with recreational fishers what motivates their involvement
  • understanding the type of support that has been required from Government or other sources that has enabled their involvement
  • canvassing recreational fishers’ opinion about options that would increase recreational fisher engagement in habitat initiatives in their own countries as well as in Australia.
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