Over the past few months the Native Fish Recovery Strategy team have been ramping up our engagement with the broader community and specialist stakeholder groups. In addition to our GetInvolved website and stakeholder survey, which had a good response and lots of useful feedback, several targeted stakeholder workshops have been held.

Each workshop drew on either technical experts, water managers, or representatives from the community and industry. Around 40 people participated in each workshop, which were run by WatersEdge, the independent consultants who are drafting the Native Fish Recovery Strategy.

We also established and held initial meetings with our technical advisory group and cultural advisory group, who are providing First Nations and science input into the strategy, to ensure it has inclusive and evidence-based objectives and actions.

The survey, workshops and other consultations, such as dedicated sessions at national conferences, have provided a wide range of feedback and input that now needs to be collated to guide development of the Strategy. Drafting of the Native Fish Recovery Strategy, which will build on the solid foundation of the first Native Fish Strategy (published in 2003), is well underway. An exposure draft is expected to be released for further public feedback in late February 2020.

Highlights of engagement to date include:

· Online Presence: Get Involved website (www.getinvolved.mdba.gov.au) and online Stakeholder Survey which received 40 responses (9/09 – 3/10/19); Finterest website (www.finterest.com(External link)); dedicated NFMRS@mdba.gov.au(External link)for people to submit feedback

· Consultative Workshops: Technical (19/11/19); Manager (21/11/19); Community (4/12/19); NSW DPI Fisheries (10/12/19)

· First Nations Consultation: Northern Basins Aboriginal Nations (27/11/19); Murray Lower Darling Indigenous Nations (17/09/2019); Seasonal Calendar Workshop (18/12/19)

· Dedicated Sessions/presentations at National Conferences: Australian Society for Fish Biology (October, ACT); Riversymposium (October, QLD); Australian Freshwater Sciences Society (December, VIC); National Recreational Fishing Conference (December, TAS).

We recognise that it is a tough summer this year, with Basin communities and ecosystems battling one of the worst droughts on record. In this busy period, we appreciate the time people have taken to provide valuable feedback and are keen to stay in touch with stakeholders throughout the process of developing the Native Fish Recovery Strategy. Watch out for related emails and articles, feel free to send further feedback via our NFRS email, and visit the websites above for the latest news on the strategy’s development.

Engagement during development of the strategy is just the first step in an adaptive and evolving process. As we move into implementation we aim to build partnerships with communities to implement on-ground actions for our native fish.

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