Senior Police Sergeant says fishing safety angel ring saved man’s life at Quobba

A Carnarvon senior police officer at the centre of a risky rescue of a fisher washed off the rocks on our Mid-West coastline said the man would not be alive had he not been kept afloat by an angel ring – installed as part of Recfishwest’s Statewide safe fishing program. 

Senior Sergeant Paul Tolan said the emergency call was raised to Carnarvon Police earlier this month after two brothers fishing north of Carnarvon at Quobba had been washed off the rocks during precarious 3-4m swells.  

One of the fishers somehow managed to clamber back up the jagged rocks before hurling the angel ring installed at Camp Rock towards his 23-year-old brother, who was struggling to keep his head above water having not worn a lifejacket.  

The angel ring helped keep him afloat until a Rio Tinto vessel in the area could be scrambled to pull him from the water 300 metres from shore after he was swept out to sea.  

“If it wasn’t for that angel ring being positioned nearby and thrown out to this man’s aid, he would certainly have drowned in those conditions,” said Senior Sgt Tolan.  

“Safety precautions need to come first when fishing and we would like to see more of these angel rings deployed along the coast. Carnarvon police are frequently called out to rescue situations like this in rough conditions where no one should be fishing in the first place.” 

This angel ring located at Camp Rock/Quobba saved a young man’s life by keeping him afloat after he was washed off the rocks during dangerous conditions earlier this month on WA’s Mid-West coastline.

Rock fishing comes with many risks 

Recfishwest has installed 80 angel rings and deployed 174 loan lifejackets across WA to keep rock fishers safe as part of our WA safe fishing program and partners with the Bureau of Meteorology to share dangerous rock fishing alerts during the spring, summer and autumn months.  

Recfishwest’s Senior Operations and Safety Officer Sam Russell said fishing from rocks comes with many risks, particularly in poor weather conditions and high swell.  

“Even seasoned rock fishers can get caught out by so-called ‘rogue’ waves if not fully aware and prepared,” said Sam. “No fish is worth risking your life for – so unless you have plenty of experience, we recommend you keep the sand between your toes and fish off the beach. 

“However, if you choose to fish from the rocks, we advise you follow our rock fishing safety tips closely – check the weather and swell before you even consider going out, wear the right gear including a lifejacket and never go fishing alone.” 


Tim Meachan, owner of the popular land-based fishing spot of Quobba Station said there are loan lifejackets available to all fishers who wish to wet a line off the elevated cliff platforms. 

“All it takes is one rogue wave to come along and you’re in the water,” said Tim. “Given both of these men were wearing trackpants, heavy work boots and had no lifejackets on, if they both had remained in the water during those treacherous conditions this would have been a recovery mission of two bodies. 

“We are always happy to give out loan lifejackets to fishers at Quobba and you should always be wearing one when fishing off the rocks regardless of the conditions, but when the swell is this dangerous it’s not worth fishing off the rocks at all.”  



Recfishwest led the charge to have more than 80 angel rings and 174 loan lifejackets deployed across WA to keep rock fishers safe, but fishing with a friend, wearing a lifejacket, analysing the conditions on arrival, tethering yourself to the rocks and wearing the right footwear should be the first safety measures when fishing off the rocks.

Recfishwest teams up with Bureau of Meteorology for dangerous rock fishing condition alerts initiative

Keeping people safe while fishing comes down to improved alerts, communication and awareness – and a new initiative for 2023 will potentially save lives.

As part of the Statewide safe fishing program, funded through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, Recfishwest is teaming up with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) to alert fishers about high-risk rock fishing conditions the moment they are forecast.

While our coastline boasts some of the best land-based fishing grounds in the world, the rocky terrain and frequent hazardous conditions combined with poor decision-making plays a prevalent role in fishing fatalities in WA.

That is why from March through to 1 June, and then from 1 October through to 1 June 2024, the Bureau will send alerts to Recfishwest that include details about timing, duration and locations of the forecast dangerous swell conditions.

Recfishwest will then broadcast the alerts through its Facebook and Instagram platforms, reaching a wide range of the fishing community and, if timely, through its weekly fishing reports sent out to all Recfishwest members.

There will be two levels of alert – orange for hazardous conditions and red for extremely hazardous conditions.

The first alert as part of the initiative went out yesterday (Sunday, 12 March)  – see below – with a warning in place between Cape Naturaliste and Albany on Monday evening extending out to Israelite Bay on Tuesday morning.

It’s a good example where the weather conditions look fair, but the swell picks in advance of a front coming through.

Here is the most recent warning from the Bureau of Meteorology, with dangerous rock fishing conditions forecast for the South-West and southern coastline from Tuesday, 14 March.

The alert initiative follows on from a pilot project run by Recfishwest in partnership with the Bureau last autumn which achieved a big reach on social media (an average of 30,000 fishers per post) and generated a lot of positive feedback from the fishing community.

This new initiative has been developed by Recfishwest and the Bureau with input from south coast fishing experts to prevent fishers from wetting a line in precarious conditions – as no fish is worth risking your life for.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “Fishing from rock platforms in big swells comes with inherent risk and inexperienced fishers should keep the sand between their toes and fish from the beach. Even experienced rock fishers can get caught out if they are unaware of big swells.

“We want everyone to come home safe from a day’s fishing and it’s very important to be aware of the conditions before deciding whether to go out and fish. These alerts will help fishers make better informed decisions.

“It’s great to be working with the Bureau of Meteorology in this way to provide what has already proven to be a valuable service when trialed last year. Our thanks to the Bureau for working closely with us to establish this important service.”

James Ashley, Bureau of Meteorology WA Manager added, “We’re really pleased to be able to collaborate with Recfishwest on this initiative – pairing up our expertise with Recfishwest’s reach with the fishing community could potentially save fishers’ lives through these alerts.

“We appreciate fishing is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of West Australians every year and we want to do what we can to ensure they can enjoy it safely.”

For more tips on staying safe while fishing in Western Australia, check out the Fish and Survive website.

Also, check out Chris Dixon’s tips on how to avoid the dangers of rock fishing.

With dangerous conditions comes an increased risk when fishing from the rocks. No fish is worth risking your life for and these lucky fishers narrowly escaped a rogue wave while fishing off Salmon Holes near Albany.