Easter is one of the peak times for recreational fishing each year, especially in the State’s South West with the annual salmon run aligning with great weather, but authorities have noticed that some of the messages around rock fishing safety may be starting to sink in.
Over the Easter long weekend, where thousands of fishers descend on popular tourism hotspots to catch their prize fish, a slight change in behaviour was witnessed. At the ever popular Salmon Holes in Albany, more fishers were trying their luck fishing for salmon from the beach. Shoulder to shoulder the fishers stood eagerly awaiting the next school to come through, rather than fighting for positions on slippery rocks.
For the fishers that ventured onto the rocks, rock bolts and ropes were used along with some 36 free life jackets that were loaned out on site.
Local fisher, member of the Albany Offshore Boating and Fishing Club and long time advocate of the state-wide rock fishing strategy Andrew Jarvis, said that more people were willing to listen to the authorities and adhere to the advice they were given in regards to the dangers of rock fishing.
“It was great to see the engagement between the anglers and the respective authorities trying to make their fishing safer” Mr Jarvis said.
“We handed out life jackets, safety information, informed fishers of what footwear they should be wearing and on a lot of occasions, once this was explained, the fishers ended up opting for the safer beach option, which is a win for all and a sense of a possible behaviour change.”
Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said that this Easter was a great example of the state wide rock fishing strategy working in making fishers safer.
“The strategy has been in place for almost 2 years and we’re starting to see fishers change their behaviour toward rock fishing by recogniosing that lives have been lost and they should do more to make themselves safe, Dr Rowland said”
“To see no lives lost over the 4 day Easter weekend this year is a real positive and more fishers taking to the beaches shows that fishers are becoming more aware, but there are still people willing to gamble with their life and not use safety equipment provided, including utilising free life jacket loans.”
There really is no excuse for rock fishers across WA not to use the free life jacket loan scheme, as part of their rock fishing safety routine.
If you do happen to end up in the water, through bad luck or lack of caution, a free life jacket might be the one thing that saves your life.
There are now 15 outlets around Western Australia (now including Steep Point in Shark Bay) that offer the free loan life jackets and there is nothing that frustrates these businesses more than seeing them not being utilised. All you need to do is go into one of these shops, put down your name, take a life jacket, and return it at the end of the day.
Carrying a life jacket is just one way recreational fishers can protect their own safety when fishing from the rocks.
There have been more than 22 rock-fishing deaths since 2002 in WA alone but simple steps can ensure that the risk of incident when fishing is reduced.
Recfishwest reminds anglers to never fish alone, wear proper footwear (rockhopper boots are ideal) and observe first, fish later so they don’t put their life on the line.