Board Members

  • Rob Loats

    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.

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    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 a past Chairman and  member of 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, Chair of the Northcentral CMA  Gunbower, Lower Loddon Native Fish Recovery Plan and a current member of the Snobs Creek Fish Hatchery and Liberation Governance Board.  He is a current member of the DELWP Riparian Forum 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 always been interested in water quality and has recently completed 25 years of voluntary water monitoring with the North Central CMA Waterwatch Program.  

    Rob has a very strong affinity in habitat protection and reinstatement, environmental and recreational water allocations, 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 all Victorian recreational fishers 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

    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.

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    A member of the Dunlop Bayswater Angling Club (39 years) and Club President for the last 20 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 Former President of the Howqua Association Angling Clubs, and has been a delegate of VRFish for the last 20 years. Steven is the current deputy chair of VRFish and chair of the finance and access committee’s. 

    Steven believes fishers need a strong peak body who can advocate on their behalf and provide a voice back to the VFA and government 

    As a VRFish representative he is able to give back to the sport he has enjoyed for many years.

  • 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.

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    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

    Franz spent his career in various management roles in the energy sector. During this career, Franz commenced a journey of advocacy for the clean energy sector as a board member of a number of Sustainable Energy Industry organisations that were the precursor organisations of the present Clean Energy Council.

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    The skills Franz brings to VRFish are based on this business and advocacy experience as well as his lifelong fishing experience. This knowledge of advocacy and leadership includes 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. In recent years Franz has been the Chair of the VRFish Access and Infrastructure Reference Group and has been heavily involved in the successful advocacy for improved funding and management of boating infrastructure.

  • 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.

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    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.

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    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

    Kris is currently serving his second term as a board director since joining VRFish back in 2016 and has been instrumental in helping drive the transformation that has seen VRFish become a modern and influential peak body. 

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    Kris is a passionate conservationist with a particular interest in improving the health of our waterways and as the chairman of the VRFish Habitat and Water Reference Group, actively represents VRFish on numerous committees and stakeholder reference groups to advocate for better fish habitat and thriving recreational fisheries.

    Professionally, Kris had many years of management experience in the engineering sector before undertaking a career change after studying conservation and land management, and now works in the environmental water management industry.

    Kris enjoys all methods of fishing and targets a wide range of species, but predominantly spends most of his angling days fly fishing for trout in the Yarra Valley or chasing cod in northern Victoria whilst passing on the angling tradition to his two young children.

  • 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.

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    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.

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    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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