VRFish is governed by a Board with a diverse range of expertise and set of business, policy, strategic, finance, communications, administration and advocacy skills. Importantly, this is coupled with a great wealth of experience and passion for recreational fishing.

Rob Loats (Chair)

Rob is a primary production business manager from rural Victoria. He has extensive experience of issues associated with natural resource and water management and skills associated with government and non-government state agency inputs and outputs.

Rob has provided long term representation for his local club as president and secretary, long term representation of two local angling associations as president and is a past member of the state Fisheries Co-Management Council. He has been on the Fisheries Revenue Allocation Committee (FRAC), is the current Chairman the Recreational Fishing Licence Working Group, member of the Murray Darling Basin Murray Cod Fishery Advisory Group, the North Central Catchment Management Authority Community Leaders Group and is the regional representative at both the North West and South West Victoria Fish Stock and Cons meetings. He is a current member of the DELWP Riparian Advisory Group and Life Member of the Mid Northern and Wimmera Angling Associations and Donald Angling Club. Rob’s efforts have also earnt him the National Mal Ramsay Lifetime Achievement Award 2012.

Rob has a very strong affinity in habitat protection and reinstatement, and as a member of the National Fish Habitat Network continues to promote the values of fish habitat and projects that protect and restore habitat in Rivers, Creeks, Wetlands and Water Storage Reservoirs, especially woody habitat.

Rob joined the VRFish Board to promote the interests of recreational fishers from regional Victoria and to apply his knowledge regarding strategic business directives, financial management and skills associated with responding to government policy directives to promote the best outcomes for recreational fishers. 

Steven Relf (Deputy Chair)

Steven brings a wealth of experience to the Board of VRFish and is experienced in dealing with a variety of complex issues, adding value to the organisation in an ever-changing environment. Now retired, Steven has had over 26 years experience as a senior manager in local government. A member of the Dunlop Bayswater Angling Club (37 years) and Club President for the last 18 years, Steven has a strong commitment to our rivers and streams and a desire to see them returned to their natural condition. Steven is the President of the Howqua Association Angling Clubs, and has been a delegate of VRFish for the last 18 years. Steven is the current deputy chair of VRFish and chair of the finance committee.

Steven believes fishers need a strong peak body with the ability to influence the development of sound policy in relation to fisheries management. As a VRFish representative he is able to give back to the sport he has enjoyed for many years by being able to provide an advocacy role on behalf of all Victorian fishers.

Russell Conway

Russell has been a keen and passionate recreational fisher for over 40 years. He enjoys fishing our quiet country streams and lakes chasing trout and native species just as much as the thrill of fishing for pelagic species around our magnificent coastline.

Russell is the President the Metropolitan Anglers Association, Chairman of RecFish Australia, past Chairman of VRFish and a life member of the Greensborough & District Angling Club. Russell provides recreational fishing industry expertise to the Board of the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation (FRDC), is a member of the FRDC Recfishing Research Committee and is also a member of the Australian Fish Names Committee. Russell's various roles have provided him with a good understanding of the diverse issues challenging recreational fishers and the importance of effective representation and advocacy to ensure we can all continue to enjoy fishing in the future.

Franz Grasser

Professionally, Franz spent his career in various management roles in the energy sector. During his career, Franz commenced a journey of advocacy for the clean energy sector exposing him to the full range of challenges that advocacy organisations encounter.

The skills Franz brings to VRFish are based on his business and advocacy experience as well as his lifelong fishing experience. As the owner of a small business, he also has knowledge of financial and general business matters but the main expertise that he brings to VRFish is the experience in advocacy and the leadership in business as well as decades of experience as a board member of advocacy organisations.

As an unaffiliated member of VRFish, Franz connects with fishers who are not part of formal fishing organisations. Franz joined VRFish and stood for election to the Board because of his love of fishing and the prospect that his input can make a positive contribution to sustaining recreational fishing into the future.

John Hotchin

John has been actively involved with VRFish since the beginning, he has actively participated in various subcommittees and brings a wealth of knowledge to the VRFish Board. He firmly believes in VRFish and strives to meet the goals set by the fishing community.

John is President of the Geelong Fly Fishing Club and Secretary/ Grants Officer of the Geelong and District Angling Clubs Association. He is a life member of the Geelong Sport and Game Fishing Club and Geelong and District Angling Clubs Association. For 30 years, he has actively promoted recreational fishing around the Geelong region through coordinating the Ron Nelson Memorial Junior Fishing Clinic on behalf of the Geelong and District Angling Clubs. John has also been very active in acquiring grants to improve recreational fishing opportunities around Geelong.

Joy Sloan

Joy Sloan has 30 years experience in Natural Resource Management and 12 years with Fisheries Victoria. Joy has a very strong understanding of issues facing recreational angling and knowledge of the inter–relationships between Natural Resource Management Agencies and how these agencies can benefit or impact recreational angling and anglers.

She brings to VRFish strength in building relationships, developing partnerships, negotiating collaborative outcomes, facilitating and organizing people, information and events, developing logic based evaluation and evidence based collecting processes, developing innovative ideas and creative problem solving.

Joy is a passionate advocate for recreational fishing and recreational fishers and has a strong commitment to aligning professional work ethics with personal values centered on integrity, collaboration, environmental and social stewardship and as a member of the VRFish board, she has the opportunity to continue to advocate for and provide advice to recreational anglers.

Kris Leckie

After completing the Young Future Leaders course in 2016, Kris became an unaffiliated member of VRFish and was elected to the board soon after in 2017. Kris enjoys all methods of angling and targets a wide range of species, but predominately spends most of his angling days chasing trout with a fly rod. Kris is a passionate conservationist with a particular interest in restoring riparian vegetation, re-instating fish habitat, and promoting responsible land management practices that actively improve the health of our waterways.

Professionally, Kris has many years of management experience and holds a tertiary qualification in Conservation and Land Management. He has been an active member of numerous groups and committees such as the Trout reference group, the Spotted Tree Frog recovery advisory committee, and the Fish Habitat and Flows Roundtable. Kris is a member of the VRFish communications committee and actively contributes to the VRFish social media platforms, assists in the development of interpretative and educational material, and feels extremely privileged to have the opportunity to represent and advocate for anglers across Victoria.

Neville Dance

Neville has been an avid fisherperson since he was 6 years old and fishing in the Hopkins and Curdies Rivers with his father. Around the age of 18, Neville developed a strong urge to start salt water fishing. This passion encouraged Neville to join the Warrnambool Offshore & Light Game Fishing Club and the Game Fishing Association of Victoria. He is now a life member of both clubs.

Neville previously served as Vice-President of the Game Fishing Association of Victoria and still remains on their committee. He has also served as a member of the Recreational Fishing Licence Grants Committee. He currently represents the Game Fishing Association of Victoria to VRFish.

Halley Xu

Halley is the President of the Victoria Chinese Angling Association and represents more than 1400 registered members. The Victoria Chinese Angling Association aims to provide Australian Chinese fishing enthusiasts with comprehensive fishing related information including safety awareness, fishing techniques and locations.

Halley is passionate about safety awareness and providing safety information to recreational fishers with a particularly interest in rock fishing safety. Many culturally and linguistically diverse communities participate in rock fishing which can be a risky activity, especially if fishers are not used to the local conditions. Halley believes that VRFish has an opportunity to deliver valuable outcomes for recreational fishers through delivering vital information about conditions at popular fishing locations to enable fishers to make informed decisions before embarking on fishing trips.

As a Board member of VRFish, Halley looks forward to connecting with VRFish members, delivering safety workshops, sharing vital sharing information with culturally and linguistically diverse communities and working together to translate important safety information to ensure all recreational fishers are able to access vital safety information.

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