The AFTA Board recently had the pleasure of learning about the mission and accomplishments of volunteer organisation Fishcare Victoria when their extremely passionate Executive Officer, Sarah Van Stokrom attended a meeting to explain all.
Fishcare Victoria aims to provide educational services to the broader community that foster responsible and sustainable fishing practices and promote participation in recreational fishing to the next generation of anglers.
Fishcare Victoria, supported through the Recreational Fishing Licence Fund, leads the way in educating new generations of recreational fishers in responsible and sustainable fishing practices in Victoria. Fishcare commenced in 1995 with a focus on angler education around the highly regarded fishery of the Gippsland Lakes. From this beginning, Fishcare has expanded to encompass five coastal based Fishcare groups and an inland group covering Victoria’s Central Highland region. All Fishcare groups have a membership base of volunteers and each group is independently incorporated with a Committee of Management overseeing their management and operation. This state-wide network of passionate and dedicated volunteers continues to actively work and respond to the needs of their local communities in regard to both local and state-wide fisheries educational issues.
Raising the level of public awareness and angler education continues to be the core function of the Victorian Fishcare Program. This is achieved by conducting educational fishing clinics, attendance at fishing expos, shows and other local community events. The Victorian Fishcare Program has also established a wide range of valued and ongoing collaborative partnerships. Importantly the relationship between Fishcare and Fisheries Victoria (within the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries) continues today aiding to achieve their collective objectives of strengthening appropriate angler behaviours and fishing practices. The establishment of Fishcare Victoria in 2010 as an umbrella body for the five Victorian Fishcare groups has provided Fishcare with an improved level of coordination, statewide consistency and professionalism and also helped groups to reduce their individual workloads by centralising some of the administrative requirements for all groups.
Now, 18 years on, the Victorian Fishcare Program remains enthusiastic and ambitious about its role in educating the next generation of recreational fishers in Victoria. Collectively, Fishcare groups aim to grow, diversify and deliver over the next three years by:
• Ensuring the foundations are strong through sound governance and volunteer and staff management
• Recruiting a diversity of new volunteers and establishing Fishcare groups in new locations
• Securing additional support for the program including staff and investment
• Delivering quality educational programs to Victorian anglers, particularly school age children
• Participating in aquatic habitat protection and rehabilitation activities.
See video here.