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.

Gascoyne’s spectacular fishing on full display at Carnar-Fin Fishing Competition!

Hundreds of local community members and more than 250 fishers flocked to Carnarvon to experience the highly anticipated Carnar-Fin Fishing Competition. 

Since its inception in 1992, Carnar-Fin has become an annual spectacle in the Gascoyne region held over the June long weekend, with the fantastic fishing available on Carnarvon’s doorstep being the main star during the week-long event from 27 May – 2 June. 

Event coordinators were kept busy constantly updating the whiteboard with the biggest captures across more than a dozen species, with Spanish mackerel, red emperor, coral trout, cobia, trevally and many more species keeping rods bent, reels sizzling and cameras snapping.  

As you can see from the beaming smiles in the pictures below – Carnar-Fin helps bring the local community members and fishers from across WA together to have a yarn and celebrate all things fishing. 

Recfishwest was there to help out with the Carnar-Fin Kids Fishing Competition, which saw some spectacular species caught and released right on the doorstep of the town marina. 

Our Senior Operations Officer Sam Russell was on hand to help teach kids the importance of correct fish handling and releasing, which certainly kept him busy! 

“As you can see in the quality snaps, there were plenty of fish caught and it was great to see a lot of smiling youngsters and families wetting a line. The atmosphere here every year is always buzzing and it was great to see people come together for a laugh and friendly chat,” said Sam. 

“Captures that are brought in for weigh-in don’t go to waste either and are also kindly distributed around to community members, so there is a great social element to this event every year.” 

Big payday for lucky angler

The biggest prize of Carnar-Fin was a 4.6m tinnie valued at a whopping $30,000 up for grabs in the raffle, which saw mad fisher Kieran Pirini lost for words as the eventual winner, with proceeds from ticket sales being reinvested back into the community.  

A new $30,000, 4.6m Stessco Catcher 460 for lucky fisher Kieran Pirini! Who scored this beaut new ride courtesy of the Carnar-Fin raffle!

Western Angler’s Scott Coghlan had the pleasure of being MC for the event and didn’t want to miss out on the sensational fishing – even he towed his boat up and managed to reel in some impressive mulloway and trevally alongside his fishing mate Glenn Edwards.  

“Every day the crowd was excited to see the catches rolling in and there is a huge sense of positivity, connection and friendly banter between everyone who comes to Carnar-Fin each year. Fishing events like this form the fabric of coastal community towns like Carnarvon and they are crucially important for the social and mental wellbeing of everyone attending,” said Scott.  

Check out some of the amazing snaps and captures from Carnar-Fin below and click here to visit the event’s Facebook page 

The past, present and future of WA’s artificial reefs and Recfishwest’s role!

Ever wanted to know the history of how artificial reefs became so successful around the world and the future reefs set to make a splash off our coastline?  

Recfishwest’s Programs Manager James Florisson also spoke with ABC Kimberley/Pilbara on the artificial reefs planned to be placed off the Broome and Carnarvon coasts along with FADs in our northern waters! Catch James’ radio interview by watching the video below!

Mark Pagano (DPIRD’s Aquatic Resource Management) also spoke to 6PR’s Glen Jakovich on artificial reef developments in the pipeline across WA, why certain reef materials are more productive, what species fishers can expect to catch and much more! You can catch Mark’s chat by clicking here

Want to know more about how Recfishwest is driving artificial reef deployments around WA? Click here 


Restoring jetty fishing in Carnarvon – 150 metres down, 1,300 metres to go

While it is finally receiving a small part of the restoration it thoroughly deserves – Carnarvon’s One Mile Jetty repairs will sadly fall well short of reaching the water, dashing the hopes of local fishers to soon wet a line again off the historic structure.

The State Government recently announced they would restore the first 150 metres of the jetty to celebrate its contribution to the heritage of the Gascoyne region.

“While it is great to see the Government position the jetty as the centerpiece of Carnarvon’s heritage precinct and invest in a portion of its restoration, it is bittersweet news for Carnarvon locals,” said Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell. “They have spent years waiting for another land-based structure to restore the great fishing opportunities the jetty used to provide.

“The definition of a jetty requires it to extend over water, so the current restoration of 150 metres essentially just makes it a boardwalk. It would be fantastic to see the jetty restoration extended further so it reaches the waterline and once again offer safe and accessible fishing opportunities to the Gascoyne community.”

Jetties are highly valued community assets; they offer everyone the opportunity to access deeper water and a wider variety of species than are available from shore.

A former land-based fishing gem

Ask any experienced local fisher in Carnarvon to share any great fishing memories from Carnarvon’s One Mile jetty and their tales would stretch longer than the 1,450-metre jetty once did.

The jetty was the beating heart of recreational fishing in Carnarvon, with Recfishwest running successful local fishing clinics on the structure for years that saw excited youngsters land species such as queenfish, trevally, fingermark, flathead and mulloway to name a few.

Extending out to sea from Babbage Island on the southern side of the Gascoyne River mouth, the lengthy jetty was a hotspot for fishers of all ages and abilities to catch a wide array of species for more than 120 years.

Although the much-loved fishing platform was closed in 2017, many fishers continued to access the jetty. In the lead up to the 2021 election, the State Government pledged $4.5 million to progress the redevelopment of the shore-based section of the jetty.

However, shortly after the election, Cyclone Seroja ripped through and devastated large sections of the remaining jetty along with hopes the original jetty would ever be restored.

These images taken by TJ Bice back in April 2021 shortly after Cyclone Seroja show the damage inflicted along Carnarvon’s One Mile Jetty, with the waterside section cherished by land-based fishers copping the worst of it.

Early last year the Department of Transport completed a $4.2 million deconstruction of the intertidal and waterside sections of the damaged jetty as it was creating a navigation hazard.

It is possible though, to pay homage to the history of a landmark while simultaneously improving fishing opportunities as has been proven on WA’s south coast.

“The Government need to look no further than Esperance to see how important and beneficial it can be to restore the values a jetty provides,” said Leyland.

How Esperance jetty got it right

Just like Carnarvon, Esperance faced the dilemma of choosing to either restore their much-loved Tanker jetty or build a new jetty.

In the end, both goals were accomplished with a portion of the original timber jetty restored and connected to a new $7.5 million, 415-metre-long concrete structure that is safe, spacious and provides excellent fishing opportunities.

Since the new Esperance jetty was opened in March of 2021, it has once again become the heart of the town as the prime land-based fishing location for locals and thousands of tourists, many of whom visit Esperance because it once again has a jetty.

The new Esperance jetty paid homage to the original timber Tanker jetty by connecting it to the new $7.5 million, 415-metre-long concrete jetty that has since restored the foundations of land-based fishing in the town.

“Esperance shows honouring the old while embracing the new is possible, the same can be done in Carnarvon.” said Leyland. “We’re continuing to call on the Government to restore the fishing opportunities that Carnarvon’s One Mile jetty provided. The fishing memories and health benefits that the One Mile jetty gave me and countless others for generations are too great to be overlooked,” said Leyland.

“To fully unlock the potential of the heritage precinct, a new jetty extending from the restored section of the old jetty must be a priority for Government. They are certainly taking steps in the right direction by restoring the first 150 metres, but they still have another 1,300 metres to go before they restore the true value the jetty provides.”

Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell has lifelong childhood memories fishing from Carnarvon’s One Mile Jetty, pictured here on a family fishing trip in the 1980s.