Spotlight: Women recreational fishing leaders

VRFish is always looking for new ways to get more people, especially women and families, to become more involved in the recreational fishing industry. It is a healthy, outdoor activity which can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Within our sector, there are a lot of women not only participating recreationally but also pursuing a career within the industry. VRFish, for example, has a majority of female employees as well as a number of female members representing and advocating for recreational fishers. It is ironic, given the stereotype that fishing is a male dominated industry, to see that many organisations in our sector have a large number of female employees, members and stakeholders.


Fishcare Victoria is ‘a community based not-for-profit organisation promoting responsible and sustainable fishing practices’ and another organisation within our sector which is also a primarily female operation, with it’s team of three employees. Fishcare is also supported by their enthusiastic group of 80 volunteers across six regional groups.

Sarah Van Stokrom has worked in the role of State Coordinator at Fishcare since March 2017. With a background in Natural Resource Management, there isn’t any wondering why Sarah is passionate about connecting with the environment through fishing. She also completed her Honours Thesis on ‘The Motivations of why people go fishing’, before it was the hot topic it is today.

After growing up in a fishing environment herself, Sarah goes fishing at least once a month with her family. Her five year old daughter absolutely loves to go fishing, while her three year old son is still learning what it’s all about – while playing with (and sometimes breaking) a rod. Sarah and her family enjoy saltwater fishing at Anderson’s Inlet for whiting and flathead, typically following a catch and release approach.

The key motivations for Sarah to go fishing are all about connecting with nature and the little things that come with time outdoors, such as noticing an eagle gliding through the sky or comparing seashells and driftwood with her children, as well as connecting as a family through fishing. It is also a great chance to take a break from everyday life and appreciate time outdoors with her family.

Sarah enjoys educating kids on the wholistic approach to sustainable and responsible fishing through her role at Fishcare. School children attend Fishcare clinics where they are taught about sustainable fishing, fish handling practices, rules and regulations, different fish species, casting tips and participate in fishing sessions. Through these clinics, Sarah enjoys seeing kids become appreciative of the environment and aware that their actions can help to protect our fish stocks.

Fishcare also promote fishing as a healthy, family-friendly activity. Sarah says, ‘fishing mums deserve to be acknowledged’, as often they will take a step back to supervise the kids while their partner focuses on fishing. There are a diverse range of fisherwomen, including expert and avid fishers, those who enjoy it as a hobby and those who are novice fishers, it is an inclusive activity that can be enjoyed by all.

VRFish welcomes any initiatives and strategies that seeks to engage and attract more women into fishing.

The Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) recently launched a Women in Recreational Fishing network (WIRF) Facebook group as a way for more women to connect and grow a love of fishing. The group is intended to be a safe space to discuss all things fishing with likeminded women. The aim of the network is ‘to establish an interactive space for women and girls of all ages to share their experiences, passion and knowledge of recreational fishing. This group also provides the opportunity for women to pick up a brand-new hobby for the whole family!’

There is a diverse range of women within the group, ranging from novices who are interested in taking up a new hobby to those who are incredibly experienced fishers. While it is primarily for those based in Victoria, females from other states and countries are also welcomed into the group. Whether you want to try your hand at fly fishing or branch out to a new fishing spot, the group is full of supportive women who can provide advice. As the network grows, so will the opportunities to learn more from fellow fisherwomen.

Check out the Women in Recreational Fishing Network.

There are also Women in Recreational Fishing Leadership Program Scholarships available through the VFA for members of the WIRF network with applications closing on 1 July 2018.

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