Frothing up

26 Oct 2015-10-26

Letter to the Editor,

It was another great year at ASFB. So many talks to get to and so little time. I missed  a lot of the social activities this year on account of a FIFO approach this year (that’s fly in fly out for those not familiar with the Qld mining boom scourge). My highlights were as always, catching up with fishos from far flung corners of the country, but this year particularly enjoyed the ASFB Award and keynote talks, and the abalone seas ranching preso (what?? I know for a full on freshy this was interesting).  Another surprise was Matt Hansen’s talk about the awesome work the Inland Waters Rejuvenation Assoc. have been doing to turn community attitudes from traditional put and take fish stocking activities, to also focus on addressing habitat issues and to think more broadly about how to protect and maintain their treasured fisheries. The Bogan signage was an absolute classic?

I recall Ebb’s question at the AGM to think about ideas for improving on the ASFB experience. As a relative newcomer to conferencing and having never actually assisted in organising any part of one, I tentatively offer a few thoughts (in fear of someone agreeing and suggesting I assist to coordinate an upcoming conference). Firstly I really enjoyed the 30-45 min keynote type talks this year (including ASFB award talks). For the first time I heard many people in the audience refer back to these keynotes/award talks when asking or answering questions, so I assumed these talks resonated with a lot of other people as well. I think this format of 30 min keynotes delivered at the start of either full day or half day themed sessions might be an idea worth toying with. I’m not sure how difficult it is to get keynote speakers but maybe a middle ground of 30 min might make this task easier. This format would give some of the more experienced researchers, or those with new insights or maybe complex issues that struggle to fit into the 12 min format, a platform to present sentinel work or pose a range of thought provoking ideas about a particular issue. These “theme keynotes” would then spearhead the follow up talks under that theme. Maybe an idea to secure these short keynotes could be to offer these spots to presenters also willing to convene/organise the themes for either a full or half day section of the program.

I like the photo comp idea as well. There didn’t seem to be the same number of entries as last years inaugural comp, but I think the idea is worth sticking with. Another idea I had while walking amongst posters and sponsor stands was the idea of having some live fish displays. I appreciate this might be a bit of a nightmare for conference organisers and venues, but what a great opportunity to showcase some of the unique/unusual species from the region the conference is being held in. This could also present a great opportunity to engage with community groups like ANGFA or the local recreation groups to assist in setting up a live display with the trade-off possibly a conference ticket for a member of their organisation to attend the presentations. What a great opportunity for getting some of the science back into the community and for the boffins to see some of the species they might never get a chance to see otherwise.

One final observation, I think it is absolutely imperative that any conference organising committee undertake a reconnaissance trip to the venues being proposed for social activities. I have never in my life seen such a woeful display of beer pouring than that experienced on the Monday night. Hot plastic jugs, and tap beer poured from a lofted height just makes a Queensland beer lover’s heart sink into a dark, dark place. I haven’t seen bigger heads of froth since the 2012 Qld Liberals party room on election night.  We all know how that debacle ended up. Absolutely no hard feelings toward the conference organisers, some things are just out of our control. Can’t wait for Hobart, 2016.

David Roberts

Editor’s response: You certainly raise at least one important point David.