I hope we are all at the show, and it is running … third time lucky!

Michael Starkey

President, Australian Fishing Trade Association

Presidents Report AGM 2022

As my first term as President is coming to an end, I have to re-nominate if I am continuing on board and will have to be re-elected to both the board and this position, so it may be the last report I have to write. It has been a challenging few years, and from what I can gather, the first and only President who has had to cancel the Trade Show, not once but twice!

Being a few months from the AFTA show, I hope by the time you are reading this, I hope we are all at the show, and it is running … third time lucky!

The last 12 months have been hectic for AFTA and me. We have been able to have our first face-to-face meeting in 2 years and although we had a few cancellations due to sickness and COVID last minute, we still managed to get half the Board together in Hobart. Why Hobart? Before COVID, the previous board decided that it was a good idea to move board meetings around Australia, having at least one per year in a new state; this enables AFTA to connect with local members and politicians with invites for them to attend the meeting. I will leave the political reporting to our Chairman and political advisor, Bob Baldwin and his report, so I don’t need to re-cap what we are doing in that scene.

What I did want to go through is what AFTA is currently doing.

LET’S FISH AUSTRALIA; AFTA is pleased to have finished and be presenting at the show Let’s Fish Australia. This campaign is something I have personally been involved in, and it will be the most extensive advertising campaign or spend in AFTA’s history; this is partially due to government support. NSW, SA and QLD have all come on board with the financial backing for additional spending in these states. Let’s Fish Australia is based around improving our recreational fishing industry’s mental well-being and sustainability. It is a series of 15-second ads for social media and TV advertising. Let’s Fish Australia is launching as we speak and has its own website, letsfish.net.au, combined into the Keep Australia Fishing branding, which is the public arm of AFTA. We will show these ads on TV and social channels across Australia, with the Queensland social media spend already done, with great results online.

Cultural Exchange Traditional & Modern Fishing Techniques

INDIGENOUS YOUTH; Another grant in which AFTA has been involved and renewed for a second term is the QLD Indigenous Youth Recreational Fishing Cultural Exchange Program, headed up by Kord Luckus. This program educates young indigenous people on the historical methods of indigenous fishing and teaches them about current fishing methods.

LET’S GO FISHING NSW SCHOOLS; The final grant, which is currently open, is one of AFTA’s most successful and longest-running programs, the Let’s Go Fishing NSW schools’ program. The response from this was above expectations, and AFTA decided to expand beyond the grand to provide more fishing kits for schools. In the past, we have provided over 120 schools with fishing kits, and this year we see an expansion of over 40 additional schools. This is a fantastic result. This next stage also provides intermediate tuition videos, which are currently being filmed by top media personalities across Australia. The Marine Teachers Association NSW (MTA) has been a great partner in getting the program into the curriculum across NSW. We hope this partnership continues; without the MTA, we would have trouble getting the kits into the school curriculum, which has been a barrier in other states Funded from the NSW fishing licenses, it is great to see the money being used to help grow our industry by teaching future generations how to fish.

BEST INDUSTRY OUTCOMES; I did want to back up what Bob has in his report, especially with the commitment that AFTA makes to local state issues like the Spanish mackerel in Queensland or demersal fishing in Western Australia. These are significant issues, and AFTA has been and will always be in front of these to try and get the best outcome for the industry. We might not be in the public domain doing this as AFTA works behind the scenes with politicians. AFTA does this because politicians know they can approach AFTA and get feedback and ideas before anything is public. They also know that we won’t disclose the meetings publicly, getting in before anyone else and trying to get a better outcome before it goes too far BUT when the time comes if we must go public and fight, then AFTA will be standing there with the rest of you publicly fighting the battles that we need to.

This year’s Trade Show is shaping up to be a great success. To help the industry get back together, AFTA has subsidised the Gala Dinner making it now only $50 for people to attend a full dinner and drinks package for hours; there is no excuse for not coming anymore. I wish everyone a prosperous coming year and hope the industry continues to thrive.

Remember that an industry that works together is more robust.

Michael Starkey