OzFish volunteers recognised for dedicated service

OzFish volunteers recognised for dedicated service

During the last few years, OzFish volunteers have delivered a wide range of activities dedicated to habitat restoration across Australia.

That’s only possible by having a community of dedicated members who are passionate about restoring Australia’s waterways and creating better habitat for better fishing. Our members are the lifeblood of our organisation and the contribution each of them makes is deeply valued.

That is why 2022 sees the very first OzFishers of the Year Awards presented.

A panel have selected a winner or joint-winners in each state. As the country’s only recreational fishing charity, it’s only right to name a National OzFisher of the Year for 2022. That individual is being recognised for their standout contribution, over a prolonged period, to the restoration of Australia’s waterways and fishing habitat. OzFish is honoured to announce John Larsson, from Ballina NSW as the recipient of the national award.

OzFish hope that over time the announcement of the winners becomes a coveted date in the diary of Australia’s recreational fishing community. The OzFishers of the Year Awards are just one exciting development as the OzFish movement and restoration community continues to grow.

Our members know more than anyone that there is urgent work ahead to make our waters cleaner, our fisheries healthier, and our communities more connected. These selfless individuals are what defines OzFish. Congratulations to these dedicated individuals and thank you for your service.

National OzFisher of the Year & NSW State Winner

John Larsson
Richmond River Chapter

John is one of our longest-serving volunteer executives and has led his Chapter with dedication, determination, and passion since it was established in 2015. He is always willing to go the extra mile and does a fantastic job of generating excitement around projects within the Chapter and across OzFish.

His commitment to addressing the challenges facing the Richmond River shines through in everything he does. That includes speaking at countless school and community events, participating in many tree plantings and cleanups, and tirelessly making representations to local, state, and federal politicians.

John is the driving force behind the exciting development of the ‘OzRex’ – the new Sydney Rock Oyster variant which is surviving poor water quality that is killing other oysters. The NSW oyster industry and coastal rivers across Australia are set to benefit from his efforts.

He’s always ready to get involved, get his hands dirty, and is playing a role in supporting OzFish’s efforts to change how the Richmond River catchment is managed.

Queensland OzFishers of the Year

This year, the panel decided to name three winners in Queensland, all from the Central Moreton Bay Chapter. This is in recognition of the feedback received during nominations but also reflects the scale and significance of our shellfish reef restoration activities there. Its success truly is a team effort.

David Smith
Central Moreton Bay Chapter

David plays a vital role in the successful running of our shellfish reef restoration in Moreton Bay. Using his own vehicle, David spends hours each Monday and Thursday collecting oyster shells from businesses across Brisbane and dropping them off at our shell recycling centre.

Additionally, he helps to organise the many ROB-building working bees and other OzFish events, all with good humour and a smile on his face. His willingness to get involved and ability to encourage others to do the same is a big boost for OzFish and the work of the Shellfish Revolution.

David Johnstone
Central Moreton Bay Chapter

David was a founding member of the Central Moreton Chapter and has continued to be an energetic contributor and driving force behind our shellfish restoration work. His expertise as a plumber has been instrumental in the development of the process and kit used to wash and sterilise oyster shells at our shellfish recycling centre.

He’s also recruited a large number of new members to the Chapter and gets involved in everything including selling raffle tickets, being Treasurer of the Chapter, organising working bees, clean-up days, maintaining kit, and regularly donating items key to the upkeep of the site.

Denzil Brunner
Central Moreton Bay Chapter

Denzil is a great example of a dedicated and engaged OzFish volunteer. He is always there when we need him. As well as using his own vehicle and trailer to arrange oyster shell collection, Denzil’s maritime support is vital to the chapter and the industrial pontoons he donated assist the placing of ROBs into Moreton Bay. The hours Denzil has contributed are immense.

Denzil’ maritime skills are a great asset to the Chapter, as is his enthusiasm for organising events and working bees, and getting existing and new members involved.

South Australia OzFisher of the Year

Luke Chamings
Barossa Chapter

Luke has worked tirelessly for years to help run OzFish rehabilitation events on site at the Warren Reservoir including clean up days, gone fishing days, pesticide detective work, habitat mapping and the establishment of the Murray Cod Lodges in Warren Reservoir. He has also helped OzFish and other chapters carry out projects and activities in other locations.

Luke provides a great example and is a good role model for other OzFish volunteers.

Victoria OzFisher of the Year

Peter Kelly
Sunraysia Chapter

Peter continually delivers more than is expected, particularly around the on-ground works undertaken through the Sunraysia River Repair Bus. He is always available to provide advice and recommendations on how to successfully deliver environmental projects.

He is a strong advocate of OzFish and has frequently represented us at a range of events and also in the media. He has spoken passionately on the organisation’s behalf on topics including the success of the Sunraysia River Repair Bus and at our various TEDx-style fishing talks.

Peter has provided exceptional commitment and positive impacts during his three years’ involvement with OzFish Sunraysia.

Western Australia OzFisher of the Year

Bryon Begovich
Fremantle Chapter

Bryon has been instrumental to the success of our ‘Seeds for Snapper’ initiative in WA, and consistently delivers above and beyond for OzFish.

During the four weeks of the seagrass fruit collection season, he completed 16 dives and, as a dive master, is a vital member of the team. His expertise and advice means that all of our dive volunteers take part in safe and efficient seagrass harvesting.

His friendly manner and passion for OzFish’s work make him a great asset and he is a true role model for giving back to the environment and local community.