To combat the dangers of snagged fishing gear, Recfishwest and Western Rock Lobster are continuing the ‘Snag it Tag’ it safety initiative by distributing another 4,000 danger tags to fishers in the metro area and southern parts of WA.
In recent years, crayboat deck-hands have been injured after being struck by fishing gear snagged on lobster pot lines as pots are hauled to the surface on a high-speed winch.
Ryan Leat, commercial crayfishing deckhand, explains a recent mishap while fishing in Lancelin:
‘’As the winter is now here, we are using a small percentage of lead rope to keep the rope vertically down from the surface to avoid the chance of tangling with whales. It was on the last trip that sinker and hooks were tangled on the lead rope. As the lead rope comes up we have to cover the coiler with our hand to stop the rope from coming out the bucket and causing tangles. As we do this we can’t look over the side at the rope. It was at that point the sinker smashed into the tipper and the winch then ripped round and hit the wheel house. It shook the whole wheel house. We were very lucky to not get injured. It would almost certainly kill you if it hit you in the head. Some people tie knots in the float rig or even tie a rag. This indicates to the deckhand that there is potentially something on the rope,’’ says Ryan.
The Snag it Tag it initiative arms recreational fishers with waterproof caution tags to tie to ropes and floats if they accidentally snag fishing gear on a lobster line or pot. These tags will mean deckhands on commercial fishing vessels face less risk of injury when hauling in pots.
Western Rock Lobster and Recfishwest believe everyone should return home safe after a day’s fishing and the Snag it Tag it initiative is a great opportunity for recreational and commercial fishers to work together to keep each other safe on the water.
Western Rock Lobster Chief Executive Officer Matt Taylor said the partnership with Recfishwest to deliver the caution tags to WA fishers was incredibly important to the lobster industry in helping to reduce the hazards in their often remote work environments.
’If anglers snag a fishing rig on a craypot line, the recognized method for alerting the cray boat crew is to tie an overhand loop in the rope to alert them that there is a problem below. Alternatively tie something onto the rope (like the Snag it, Tag it tags) that will not wash away as a signal to the crew to be careful.’’
“We will be raising awareness and educating commercial fishers to be on the lookout for the caution tags, so they can operate winches with extra care and at a safe speed.”
“Our busy waters can be dangerous; these tags will be an important safeguard for commercial and recreational fishers alike,” Matt says.
We share the water with many other water users and it’s important we all work together to ensure everyone returns home safe after a day’s fishing.
Snag it Tag it caution tags have been distributed to local tackle outlets along Western Australia’s coastline from Geraldton to Mandurah.