Community Champions Keeping WA Fishers Safe

Renowned for its pristine coastal landscapes, beaches and unique rock formations, Esperance is a popular spot for recreational fishing, hikers and four wheel drive enthusiasts.

With fishing high on the agenda for travelling families and tourists to the region, as they take a break in this beautiful seaside town, it’s the rocky terrain and unforgiving weather conditions at times, that can turn a pleasant trip down South into a disaster when lives are lost from slipping from a rock whilst fishing.

In late January 2017, two children (9 & 11yo) from a family went for a swim at Hellfire Bay (50km’s from Esperance, near Lucky Bay) and became caught in a rip. The father watched from the rocks, before noticing the children getting into trouble and moving into deeper water. An Angel Ring (life buoy) was located close by and the man was able swim the ring to his children who were then able to grab hold of it and together they were able to swim sideways to the rip and make their way safety ashore.

Local community champions Graham Cooper, Mike Spencer, Brett Thorp and Vince Evans have been working hard to keep their community safe when fishing from the rocks.

The team, who are all members of the South East Coast Recreational Fishing Council, recently installed six new Angel Rings and one Rock Anchor Point in areas which were identified as high-risk rock fishing locations along the coast from Quaggi Beach to Hopetoun.

‘’Who knows what would have happened if the Angel Ring wasn’t there,” said Mike.

‘’We applied for a Recfishwest Community Grant and have been pushing for more public safety equipment, such as Angel Rings and Rock Anchor Points to be installed at high risk fishing locations along the South Coast.”

‘’We could have had a three person fatality count that day. This incident certainly covers all the costs of installing the Angel Rings along the South East Coast.’’

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland commended the South East Coast Recreational Fishing Council for their efforts over so many years to keep West Aussies safe.

‘’Graham, Mike, Brett. Vince and others are great community role models and champions, volunteering their time to install public safety equipment which so many fishers rely on,” Dr Rowland said.

”Angel rings are an important part of our Fishing Safety Program and they have been used to save lives on the south coast.’’

“There are so many great people around WA who have dedicated their time to help their community stay safe when out fishing, from Quobba to Esperance, these people have hearts of gold and the 750,000 WA fishers should be grateful for the service they provide!”

Thanks to community partners and local helpers, more Angel Rings are set to be installed in Bremer Bay and Denmark. Currently there are 61 locations across the state with 67 Angel Rings installed for the community’s safety. View the locations here.

If you know of a rock fishing location that could do with an Angel Ring, let Recfishwest know at info@recfishwest.org.au.

Recfishwest Welcomes Continued Commitment to Support Safe Fishing as Major Milestone Achieved

MEDIA RELEASE May 4 2017

Recfishwest welcomes continued commitment to support safe fishing as major milestone achieved.

In a huge achievement for fishing safety in WA, the 50th Angel Ring has recently been installed at high-risk fishing locations across the state and Recfishwest has plans to install plenty more in the coming year. Angel Rings (or Life Rings) are an important piece of public safety equipment and are an effective tool to help save lives, especially amongst rock fishers.

Recfishwest Chief Executive Officer Dr Andrew Rowland said fishing safety developments over the past few years had come on leaps and bounds and this is a milestone for which all involved should be very proud.

“Our commitment to improved safety stems from the fact that we want to see all fishers return safe to their family at the end of a days fishing,” Dr Rowland said.
“There is no better feeling than hearing one of these rings has been used to save a life.”

“Land managers around WA, including Department of Parks and Wildlife, Local Governments and station owners have been tremendous in helping install important safety infrastructure at high risk fishing locations along great expansions of the WA coastline.”

“The roll-out of Angel Rings has been driven by locals on the ground in the regions who want to help keep their community stay safe. These installations not only benefit fishers but all users, visitors and locals alike.”

“We are very pleased to see the McGowan Government support this program, whereby a relatively small amount of funding greatly increases public safety outcomes,” Dr Rowland said.

ENDS

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Recfishwest MEDIA CONTACT: Tim Grose, tim@recfishwest.org.au

If you must fish from rocks, Recfishwest wants fishers to understand the simple rock fishing safety messages:
• Know how to swim – If you can’t swim, fish from the beach
• Wear a Life Jacket –small fishing life jackets, designed for fishing, worn by all safe rock fishers are recommended
• Never fish alone – fish with friends and family
• Observe first, fish later – watch the ocean conditions, the beach is always safer
• Use appropriate safety equipment – if rock fishing, use rock boots, wear light weight clothing, take ropes to tie onto rock bolts, wear a life jacket
• Tell someone your plans – tell your family where you’re fishing and when you’ll be home

There is also no shortage of Free Life Jackets around WA that fishers can hire for the day to ensure they return home safe after a days fishing. To see where you can pick up a free life jacket, visit: https://recfishwest.org.au/rock-fishing-safety/
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Fact File:
• In WA alone there have been 26 rock fishing deaths since 2002, despite this, some fishers are still putting themselves at risk of injury or death.
• Currently there are:
– 54 Angel Rings (Life Rings) installed at high risk fishing locations statewide (with another 9 to be installed soon) Current Locations include: Esperance & Surrounds, Albany & Surrounds, Denmark, South West Capes Region, Kalbarri, Quobba Station (9 to be installed), Steep Point, Dirk Hartog Island
– 36 Rock Anchor Points installed for fishers to tie themselves onto have been installed at high risk rock fishing locations on the south coast including: Esperance & Surrounds, Salmon Holes in Albany
– 21 locations have been established between Esperance and Carnarvon where the public can borrow 150 free life jackets.
• Recfishwest, under a contractual arrangement with the WA Department of Fisheries, leads the fishing safety program ‘Fish and Survive’ in WA, which aims to change behaviour of fishing safety through public awareness, promotion and communication of safety, and installation of safety equipment at high risk fishing locations across WA
• The Government has funded the program $140,000/yr for the next three years in a bid to reduce fishing related drownings and incidents.