By Ben Broadhurst with help from Lara Suitor
Following on from the Darwin Conference was never going to be easy, both in terms of the standard of research given, the faces that came far and wide (some of which were sadly missing in Sydney) and of course the social activities.
Sydney, however, delivered. Firstly huge congratulations to Matt Taylor and the organising committee for pulling off a great conference. What better way to start a fish biology conference than in an Aquarium. The welcome to country was a cracker, really set the scene and was by far the best one we had ever encountered. The welcome drinks is always a great way to start the conference, catching up with fellow fishos around a cold bevvy or two certainly whets the appetite for the proceeding few days. Add in that this was all undertaken around the perimeter of the Dugong enclosure and it almost became surreal. But lettuce move on…
The conference proper consisted of two days of concurrent sessions surrounding the middle day in which the Murray-Darling Basin Native Fish Forum was held. I was invited to assess the student talks (of which there are a number of prizes now!) which meant I was attending some talks I probably wouldn’t normally have gone to and found it to be a great way to be exposed to some new research. I have to say the standard is a little embarrassing, as a 10 year veteran of ASFB conferences, the presentation skills of these upstarts is largely ridiculous, and puts my bumbling efforts to shame. On the subject of students, the student mixer held on Monday evening at UTS was a great opportunity for budding researchers to tap into a wealth of experience the senior members of the ASFB possess, and from all reports, a success on that front. Sort out the line for the bar and it would’ve been an A+ event!
The student mixer was a great chance for young and old to mingle and despite whinging about the line-up for the bar, I’m pictured here (albeit in the background), double parked….
The Native Fish Forum on day 2 was the highlight. From John Koehn’s proclamation that he, “loves fish”, to the outstanding presentation of the power of recreational fishers to enhance fish habitat given by Matt Hansen. Martin Mallen-Cooper’s presentation on hydrology vs Hydraulics also resonated with me, some really simple solutions for the homogenous habitat in the lower Murray! Brenton Zampatti’s presentation on carp response from infrastructure induced floodplain inundation was also a bell ringer! On a sad note, as it always is when brought up, is the death of the Native Fish Strategy, around which most of the presentations of the forum were based. The rousing introduction and conclusion given by Craig Copeland, along with the work of all those present in the room, will hopefully ensure that the legacy of the Strategy lives long and prospers (and I’m not even a trekky) and we continue to make headway towards that goal of native fish restoration.
John Koehn loves fish, and old men with Beards. But who doesn’t.
What better way to wrap up three intense days of fish conferencing, than a leisurely dinner cruise around Sydney Harbour after nightfall. Top notch, great company and quiet ale or two made for a most enjoyable finale. For all its faults, this city is pretty bloody spectacular from the water after dark.
Its all fun and games until the Polaroid comes out…
My cheesy mug and Sydney’s finest night-time views
Cheers Sydney and bring on Tassie!
Ben and Larz