Fish habitat crusader awarded Churchill Fellowship

CRAIG Copeland, Manager of the Conservation Action Unit within the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has been awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship to investigate the motivation of recreational fishers in the US, UK and Ireland to restore fish habitat.

"Craig, who is based at Wollongbar, is highly regarded throughout Australia for his work in aquatic habitat rehabilitation," said NSW DPI Director General Richard Sheldrake.

"He has led the pioneering unit responsible for fish habitat rehabilitation in NSW which has resulted in massive improvements to fish habitat and fish populations through initiatives such as fishway construction, weir removals, fish-friendly road crossings, floodgate management, riparian revegetation and river resnagging programs."

Copeland's work in educating and engaging the broader recreational fishing community on habitat issues is proving successful with some of the larger recreational fishing groups through the establishment of the Fish Habitat Network program.

Dr Sheldrake said the Fellowship will provide an opportunity for Mr Copeland to travel to countries in the Northern Hemisphere where recreational fishing groups and individual fishers are the principal players in restoring fish habitat.

"By interviewing fishers in these countries, Craig will get to understand their motivations and capacities – and bring back expertise aimed at increasing the capability of Australian recreational fishers to support and improve their fishery.

"The lessons learned will be immediately transferred to recreational fishers and habitat managers here in NSW."
Copeland said the sustainability of recreational fishing and the capacity of the sector to grow are dependent on healthy fish stocks.

"Over three million people fish recreationally each year making it one of the most significant outdoor activities undertaken by Australians," he said.

"There is great scope to significantly increase the proportion of recreational fishers in NSW who contribute time, funding and effort to rehabilitate fish habitat and, as a result, increase fish populations."

Copeland plans to undertake his Fellowship trip in early 2013 and will report back to the
recreational fishing community later in the year.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, which was established after the death of Sir Winston
Churchill in accordance with his final wishes, has now funded more than 3,700 Fellowships for Australians. 

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