Whether fishing from the boat, beach or casting a line from the rocks, recfishers need to make safe fishing a priority and plan for a safe fishing experience particularly in the winter months, says Recfishwest Safe Fishing Officer Alanna Ellison.
“Safe fishing should be a focal part of every fishing experience and it is important recfishers make good decisions about how, where and when they go fishing. We want to make sure everyone returns home safely after a day’s fishing – no fish is worth your life,” Alanna said.
Recfishwest promotes and coordinates the State-wide Safe Fishing Strategy and tirelessly promotes the need for safety to be part of every fishing experience. We provide high quality safety equipment at a low cost and have made significant investments in providing safe fishing infrastructure across the State.
Take stock of risks on the rocks
A string of recent incidents has highlighted how important it is to be prepared when considering fishing from rocks.
Fishing from rocks has many inherent risks – particularly in poor weather conditions and high swell. Sadly, in WA, 37 people have died while fishing from rock platforms since 2002 and every one of these deaths was preventable.
“If you’re even slightly unsure about rockfishing, don’t put your life on the line, keep the sand between your toes and stay off the rocks,” Alanna said.
Earlier this month, a recfisher was swept into the ocean at Sugarloaf Rock, Cape Naturaliste, in the South West.
The 28-year-old was wearing a lifejacket, but struggled to stay afloat, before he was successfully rescued by First-Class Constable Rob Gaynor who was carrying a Recfishwest angel ring.
The angel ring is one of 76 installed along WA’s coast at high-risk rock fishing locations, under Recfishwest’s State-wide Fishing Safety Program.
Angel rings to the rescue
Angel rings, or life buoys, are designed to keep someone afloat and away from rocks until help arrives or a rescue can be organised.
They have been used in several life-saving rescues since the program was introduced in WA in 2015.
“We’re looking to expand the angel ring program, because we know they save lives,” Alanna said.
Although the angel ring network has improved WA’s safe fishing infrastructure, Alanna said lifejackets are also crucial while fishing land-based or from the boat in tough conditions.
“Lifejackets are an essential piece of safety equipment,” she said. “Whether you are boating, kayaking or rock fishing, a lifejacket may save your life.
“We provide Crewsaver Lifejackets at very competitive prices. The jackets are designed to be worn comfortably at all times when fishing in case an emergency quickly unfolds. Every cent we make from the sale of these lifejackets goes back into promoting safe fishing.”
In addition, Recfishwest is continuing its partnership with community partners and tackle shops across the State to provide free loan lifejackets to improve fishers’ safety.
Fishers can head into 23 tackle stores from Quobba to Esperance and hire a lifejacket for free for the day.
The lifejackets offered for hire are user-activated, requiring the user to pull a toggle to inflate the device when they enter the water.
“It is a free service helping to bring fishers home safe,” Alanna said.
Don’t get caught out with out-of-date boat safety equipment
Boat fishers should also ensure they consider the safety of themselves and their passengers before spending a day out on the water.
“Before heading out to land a fish of a lifetime, know the conditions and be aware of the weather, swell and tides,” Alanna said. “Also, let people know your fishing plans, where you’re heading and when you will be back. “While fishing on the boat, it is crucial to ensure you have the right safety equipment such as life jackets, in-date flares and EPIRB and remember to keep a close eye on the conditions.”
Alanna also encouraged all fishers to visit the Fish and Survive safe fishing website for the latest safe recreational fishing information.
“Fish and Survive educates anglers on the potential risks associated with fishing,” she said.
“With information on lifejackets, safety equipment and safety videos, the portal is a really useful resource and safe fishing tool.
“Recfishwest will continue to work tirelessly to promote safe fishing, but everyone needs to take individual responsibility to exercise caution and stay safe while fishing this winter.”