Introducing… the Austrian Board of Trustees for Fisheries and Water Protection

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22 Mar

This article is part of a series dedicated to the presentation of angling associations across Europe. For this article, we introduce the EAA member from Austria: ÖKF FishLife - Österreichisches Kuratorium für Fischerei und Gewässerschutz.

With thunderous mountain streams, crystal clear lakes, and pools where trout, char and greyling are at home, angling in Austria is an insiders’ tip known to enthusiasts all over Europe. No wonder why the number of anglers in the country is estimated at 410,000. This activity generates an annual direct and indirect contribution to the economy of €437.2 million according to figures from the Austrian angling association. In 2019, a survey on the "situation and perspectives of angling" showed that the protection of waterbodies is of great importance for anglers.
As a recognised environmental association, ÖKF FishLife stands for ecologically oriented, responsible and sustainable angling. In that regard, the Austrian association’s main goals are articulated around three key issues: water and fish species protection; protecting animals around rivers; and fishing management. Every year, the FishLife Award sheds light on projects on the improvement of fish habitats. For instances, the 2019 winner led, in collaboration with the municipality of Fischamend, a project called ‘with waders and rakes’ for the reintroduction of a population of up to 100 spawning fishes in the Fischa, a river of the Danube.
Based on these main goals, ÖKF FishLife has an inclusive approach when it comes to the development of sustainable recreational fishing throughout the country. As a matter of fact, the association supports the organisation of several summer camps for children and teenagers, who are taught by experts how to properly fish in a sustainable way. These programs often allow these debutants to get their regional fishing licence, marking the beginning of their journey as recreational fisher at a young age. In cooperation with the Ministry, the Association is working on a brochure entitled "Habitat Water - Adventure Fishing" to raise interest in angling among young people.
In order to reach out to political decision-makers, ÖKF FishLife is permanently looking for partners. With the support of over 120 nature conservation and angling organisations, the Association demanded to create a “Rescue plan for our waters and their biodiversity” in a resolution addressed the federal government.
ÖKF FishLife also attaches a great deal of importance to public relations. Their objective is to enhance angling’s overall image and to showcase its positive impacts on society as a whole. In that context, they organise a ‘FishLife Forum’ once every two to three years gathering a wide range of stakeholders of the sector. For two days, experts and representatives of member organisations from Austria and other European countries debate over pressing issues for the angling community and, most importantly, how to better cope with them. Last year, as part of the 10th FishLife Forum called ‘On the way to the Future’, discussions were held in order to develop a new approach regarding the angling sector’s outreach. Insights of the panel of experts led to the conclusion that it was vital to convey a more positive external image focused on the sector’s key benefits for people, fish and nature. In order to bolster the public’s support, the idea was inter alia to emphasise the inextricably linked between recreational fishing and nature preservation.

(c) ÖKF FishLife
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