Another great addition to this year’s show is the QLD government sponsorship of the Public Day, making the event free for the public to attend

Michael Starkey

President, AFTA

Presidents Report AGM 2023

I wish to thank everyone for the vote of confidence in my re-election on the board at the last AGM and the vote from the committee to be re-elected for the 2nd and final term as President. As per our constitution, you can only serve two consecutive terms (6 years) as President.

It was fantastic to see our industry reuniting again in August of 2022. The trade show calendar offered plenty of networking opportunities. The show itself, AFTA’s AGM, Happy Hour and the Gala Dinner & Awards Night, which saw over 400 people attend (not forgetting those who left it too late to secure a seat), shows just how vital face-to-face contact is with our industry mates.

The 2023 tradeshow promises to be the same, if not better; upon writing this report, I have been notified that the show is sold out; this is the first time AFTA has ever sold the entire space at the show! Even with the clash with the Sydney Boat Show, which was unavoidable, we lost a couple of exhibitors, and we have still sold out! That means there is an excellent opportunity for retailers to come along and see more than ever.

Talking about the tradeshow, to give it some longevity, the AFTA board, after looking at all options, has decided to sign up for the next three years at the Gold Coast and commit to a three-year extension of the public day, giving some piece of mind to the exhibitors to know they can spend money on their stands and make them look good for the public and get a return rather than not knowing what will happen next year.

Another great addition to this year’s show is the QLD government sponsorship of the Public Day, making the event free for the public to attend, this is a great commitment from them, and we hope to see more than ever before with new public day activities like the discussion panels being organised with some industry personalities.

The Gala dinner is going to be big again! Brandscope is once again sponsoring the drinks. This year sees the evening supported by the Vic Government, with them highlighting the popular Women in Recreational Fishing and Boating program. It is great to see it being so successful and implemented in QLD and potentially other states. You can find more info about the program on the AFTA website.

Outside the show, there were some significant movements on the board at the last AGM; there were three changes. We want to acknowledge the work the outgoing board members put into this role; it is voluntary, so any work done is a massive commitment to the industry in addition to their normal workload. The departing board members were Mitch Birt, Michael Wassman, and Chris Baty; thanks for all the work you have done in the past years to help make AFTA what it is today.

The three new board members are Greg Seeto, Cam Jackson and Jarrod Day. They hit the ground running and have been busy getting their heads around the programs and taking ownership of different aspects of the work AFTA does. It isn’t easy to understand how much work is involved in each project we take on until you’re in the thick of it.

The change in the board also brought a change in the Vice President and Treasurer roles; Billy Parsons has taken on the VP role while Ben Scales has taken over as Treasurer. Many thanks go to both Billy and Ben, as taking on these executive positions is more work than a standard board position and takes extra commitment.

In the last 12 months, AFTA has been busy; we have been involved in the Ultimate Fishing Expo/World Recreational Fishing Conference in Melbourne by providing exhibition space for our members and helping the Vic Government make this event a great success. It is good to see Australia on the world stage for this conference.

AFTA has done some more projects, including another phase of the IMYP, which Kord is running for AFTA. From all reports a huge success, and great to see this sort of indigenous program implemented by AFTA. Learning the traditional fishing methods is fantastic; everyone came away having learnt something new.

The next phase of the Lets Go Fishing from the NSW government is underway; with the last phase, over 100 schools are involved. This program is bigger and better than ever and continues to get support from the NSW license fees and gives the schools the ability to take kids fishing. The next generation is so important to teach to fish, which is why AFTA is so involved and hopefully always will be involved in these kids’ programs.

Early this year saw the release of the ABARES National Social and Economic Survey of Recreational Fishers 2018-2021. This Survey is a critical tool in shaping the future direction of recreational fishing nationally and, as importantly, the recreational fishing industry, whether at the retail, wholesale, manufacturer or charter fishing operator level nationwide.

AFTA has also formalised the agreements with AFTA Patrons and Ambassadors and congratulates the following people Colin Tannahill – Patron of AFTA, and the following people as ambassadors Steve Threlfall – VIC, Stephen Bax – TAS, Tim Farnell – WA, Rocky Edwards – NT. With their help, AFTA will have more local knowledge and boots on the ground to assist in where AFTA puts its resources.

Bob Baldwin has been critical in 2023, travelling nationwide to assist with political battles. Bob’s contacts in this space make such a difference to AFTA. On behalf of the entire board, I thank Bob for this. No doubt Bob’s report will refer to the political issues, so that I won’t go into these again.

I have been very busy the last 12 months, and as such, I would like to thank Heatha Nicholas, she has been putting in the hard yards, and you have all probably spoken to her over the last 12 months. The communication has been great, and membership is up, directly reflecting what she does. We have always said if we can communicate what AFTA actually does, then the membership will follow, and that is happening now.

Another person who needs credit is Nicholle Smith. Nicholle has been great in organising the AFTA show, and as I said earlier, the show is a sell-out, which is excellent news. Nicholle has been very busy making ensuring everyone is happy, which can be challenging when exhibitors want the same thing. Nicholle manages this process well and has done another fantastic job.

I wish everyone a prosperous coming year and hope the industry continues to thrive. Remember that the industry together is stronger together.


Michael Starkey