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.

The Survival Float: A Product Worth Investing In

Coming home safe from a days fishing is something that is important to everyone.  Recently Australia was introduced to the Survival Float, a new invention designed by WA spear fishers to give all boaters the best chance of coming home safe after a day in the water.
While originally designed to increase the safety of those who planned to go in the water, its high-quality materials and in water testing to full immersion means that it is also the ideal piece of equipment to act as an emergency grab bag for boaters who are only entering the water due to an emergency situation.

The Survival Float can store everything you need in an emergency.

An emergency grab bag (also known as ditch bag) is an important piece of safety equipment for boat fishers to securely store all of their survival equipment in a single, easily accessible location. A grab bag contains all of the things you need to get you through those situations no one wants to be in. By storing your EPIRB, flares, and water all in the same location you can be confident that in an emergency situation, when making the most of every second counts, you won’t be spending precious time rummaging through your gunnels and bow of your boat looking for the equipment you need to ensure the safety of you and your crew.

Storing your safety gear in the sturdy and UV resistant Survival Float also means that expensive life-saving equipment is protected from rough treatment and long-term exposure to salt water which can render it useless in a crucial situation.

Given the Survival Float was originally designed to be in the water and has been tested to full immersion, it means that in an emergency situation when you have to abandon ship, you can rely on its strong build and water tight seal to ensure your safety gear remains with you, and not at the bottom of the ocean. Its 20kgs of buoyancy can also give you added support for tired crew members who might need more than just their life jacket, while its massive 19L of storage room provides the space you will need to store all of your safety gear.

The float is available for purchase at Fish and Survive. For just $198 you can make an investment in your boating safety that will improve your chances of survival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more on the Survival Float click here.

 

Banner image credit: andreypolivanov.Shutterstock

WA Needs More Fishing Heroes!

Our Purpose is to ensure Great Fishing Experiences for all in the WA community forever.
Our Commitment is to Protect, Promote and Develop Sustainable, Accessible, Enjoyable and Safe fishing for the benefit of the community.

Thanks to our current supporters, Recfishwest can continue the fight to keep fishing great in WA.

Our role is to: 
– Be your voice that would not otherwise be heard
– Be the voice of the fish that otherwise goes unheard or ignored
– Keep you informed of all thing affecting your fishing, 24/7; we believe you need to know!
– Strive to ensure you and your family return home safe after a day’s fishing
– Defend your fishing rights when your local fishing spot is under threat
– Fight when access to fishing areas is put at risk
– Roll up our sleeves and find a solution when no one else will.

Contribute to what we do and support us, become a member and let us do the hard yakka on your behalf.  We don’t make profits here at Recfishwest and we make sure all our resources go directly towards our action to protect, promote and develop our fishing environments and to keep you fishing.

To give you an idea of where your support helps us make fishing better:
• Stocking of important recreational fish species around WA, including Pink Snapper, Barramundi, Prawns, Mulloway and Freshwater Trout
• Development, design and deployment of Artificial Reefs in Western Australia
• Development of important fishing research and conservation programs
• Development of WA’s ‘Fish and Survive’ program, to ensure all fishers come home safe after a day’s fishing
• Delivery of WA’s only state-wide fishing clinic program to thousands of kids in both metro and regional areas

A strong membership base allows us to pursue matters that affect your fishing with added confidence knowing you’ve got our back, just like we’ve got yours!

For just 50c per week, you can help us protect and develop fishing experiences in Western Australia, for the community forever.

Our Position on Mandatory Wearing of Life Jackets on Boats

June 2017

Currently, the WA Department of Transport is conducting a review of recreational boating safety requirements and the public have been asked to put their views forward during the consultation period.

Safety equipment items under review include:

  • lifejackets;
  • distress signals – EPIRBs, PLBs and flares;
  • radios and distress signalling sheets;
  • compasses and GPSs;
  • fire extinguishers; and,
  • miscellaneous equipment (first aid, lighting, paddles, bilge pumps, anchors).

Recfishwest is a key stakeholder and is represented on the Department of Transport’s External Reference Group which provides input from all the relevant water using sectors, including recreational fishing.

One topic that is being widely discussed is the consideration for the mandatory wearing of life jackets on recreational vessels.

 Please see below our position on the issue of the mandatory wearing of life jackets on recreational vessels:

  • We encourage and promote safe fishing experiences for all and equip fishers with the knowledge so they can make their own decision to fish or not to fish (as we do for rock fishing), and we believe this needs to be applied to vessel safety
  • We support increased education campaigns towards vessel owners, of the risks associated with their safety, it’s important that people have good knowledge to make their own informed decisions in specific situations
  • We do not support a blanket approach to make the wearing of life jackets on a boat mandatory

– Fishing in WA offers a large variety of boat and kayak fishing opportunities and simply having one strict rule covering all those situations is not something we support

– Where there’s evidence and statistics to support the wearing of life jackets in high-risk situations such as boat fishing at night or by yourself, like some other states, we would consider this approach instead

– We believe safety comes down to the individual and personal responsibility is the key factor

  • We believe educating boat fishers on the advancement of life jacket technology is important. There are some great slim fitting, compact life jackets that are designed to be worn on the market now, and for a really reasonable price.  Educating the boating public and empowering them to make their own choices is a better approach than making it compulsory

Recfishwest works hard to promote safety and we want to see all fishers return home safe at the end of a day’s fishing.

If you’d like to have your say, please visit the Department of Transport’s survey here.

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.

Fish and Survive This Abalone Season

MEDIA RELEASE

November 3, 2016
Fish and Survive This Abalone Season
Recfishwest and Surf Life Saving WA are urging people to remain mindful of the conditions and take personal responsibility for their actions through the abalone season which begins this Sunday, November 6.

The popular West Coast Zone Abalone season sees thousands of fishers take to the inshore reefs around the metropolitan coastline, during the one-hour fishing periods from 7am-8am on the first Sunday of each month until March. Recfishwest Chief Executive Officer Dr Andrew Rowland said Abalone is one of the most sought after shellfish with over 17,000 licence holders taking part in the fishery last year.

“We urge Abalone fishers to exercise caution whilst fishing and to be aware of the weather conditions,” Dr Rowland said.
“An early Abalone fishing session is a great way to spend the morning with the family as long as it is carried out safely.’’

The Abalone season is stretched out over several months and allows for plenty of opportunities for people to get out and fish for them.

“Quite simply, if the weather is unfavourable or you’re unsure of your ability in the water during rough conditions, don’t risk your life and go next month when the weather may be better,” Dr Rowland said.

A number of Surf Clubs with the support of Surf Life Saving Western Australia (SLSWA) will be putting on additional services for Sunday’s season opening, including the Wesfarmers Jetski response teams, while the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter will cover key locations to watch over fishers.  Despite these extra services, SLSWA General Manger Chris Peck warns fishers not to be complacent.

“Since 2012 there have been 3 deaths while abalone fishing and in the past 3 years surf lifesaving services have had to perform 42 rescues of abalone fishers – an alarmingly high number for this one recreational activity,” Mr Peck said.

“Traditionally we will also see cases of hypothermia, or be required to perform resuscitations having retrieved fishers from the water where they may have been washed off the rocks. We urge fishers to consider their own lives, and the lives of those tasked to rescue them, before putting themselves and our volunteer lifesavers in dangerous situations for the sake of catching their quota of Abalone.”

Recfishwest and SLSWA have offered these tips for all Abalone fishers:
o Check conditions – before heading out check weather conditions, including wind conditions and swells. Visit www.beachsafe.org.au for up to date reports or download the free Beachsafe App.
o Observe first, fish later – do not attempt to fish if you are unsure. Read the warnings and dangers on any safety signs.
o Wear appropriate clothing or wetsuits – Avoid heavy clothing, including tracksuits and work boots that become water logged and heavy.
o Never fish alone – stay in a group and keep an eye out for your friends and other fishers.
o Don’t panic – if in trouble stay calm and raise one arm and wave from side to side to attract attention.
A bag limit of 15 Roe’s Abalone per person/ per day in the West Coast Zone applies.

For more information about Abalone, Download the Free Recfishwest Smartphone App for either iPhone or Android.

Media Contacts:
Tim Grose, Recfishwest, 0411 393 977, tim@recfishwest.org.au
Minda Penn, Surf Life Saving WA, 0408 901 959, mpenn@slswa.com.au

Angel Ring Saves Lives in Esperance

The recent investment in rock fishing safety initiatives is starting to make a real difference in WA and lives are being saved as a result. Initiatives such as Angel Rings (life rings) are proving genuine life savers, as was the case recently at Esperance.

A father of two was fishing from the rocks at Hellfire Bay while his children, aged 11 and 15, swam from the nearby beach. While he was fishing he saw his children being swept out to sea by a strong rip current.  His quick thinking had him grab the near by Angel Ring and he attempted to get it in the water as quickly as possible. Unfortunately he was hit by a large wave and swept in himself, placing all three of them in danger in what could have been a major tragedy. Fortunately he kept hold of the Angel Ring and was able to use it to support all three of them while they swam back to shore. The alarm was raised by others, but the trio made it safely back to dry land without assistance.

This is the first time it has been confirmed an Angel Ring has been used to save lives along the south coast of WA, although we believe it has happened on other occasions from local reports including Quobba and Albany. There is no doubt the immediate availability of the Angel Ring played a huge part in the positive outcome, potentially saving three lives. This story highlights the importance of continuing to invest in safety initiatives across the state.

Recfishwest CEO Andrew Rowland said the work done by community partners in Esperance to ensure Angel Rings were installed shouldn’t be forgotten.

“The Department of Parks and Wildlife, the Shire of Esperance and the South East Coast Recreational Fishing Council all played huge roles in installing Angel Rings in and around Esperance and the recent incident and the positive outcome is a testament to their work to keep the community safe,” Andrew said.

“This incident is a reminder of the importance of on ground safety equipment installations supported by local expertise and the need for the government to continue financial support for this initiative.”

Although Angel Rings are installed at many of the popular rock fishing destinations around WA, we still highly recommend the use of a life jacket while fishing, especially the new era of compact, self-inflating life jackets available which can be worn rock, boat or kayak fishing. Check out how popular these jackets are here.

Recfishwest wants you and your family to return home safe after a day of fishing, and because of that we are proud to work with our community partners, government and the public to make that a reality through safety initiatives around WA.

New Era of Life Jackets

New era of life jackets a hit at the Mandurah Boat Show – Are we seeing a change in behaviour toward safety?

This year’s Mandurah Boat Show was a big one for Recfishwest, with the promotion and sales of our new slimline/compact Crewfit life jackets, designed for every type of fisher. Although overall show numbers were down on previous years due partly to poor weather, people’s attitudes toward fishing safety was really impressive and may be a turning point in our continued push to ensure everyone returns home safe after a days fishing.

Community Engagement Officer and Recfishwest life jacket spokeswoman Bronte Nardi, said it was great to see people putting their safety first and not buying life jackets solely as a legal requirement, but because they want to wear one at all times while on their boat, just in case they come unstuck and there was no one else around.

“We’ve been running our Fish and Survive Campaign for a year now promoting fishing safety but more importantly trying to get more people ‘wearing’ life jackets and we believe these new life jackets are the best on the market to keep you safe if you do happen to find yourself in the drink,” Bronte said.

“Punters are realising that gone are the days of the old, bulky yellow foam life jackets with fraying straps shoved under the seat of the boat. More and more fishers (particularly middle aged men who fish alone) are wanting something they can wear all day on the boat and not feel restricted while fishing.”

We believe the Crewsaver Crewfit 165 Sport life jacket is the best item you can have on you this summer and boat show goers agreed. Fishers were blown away by the new technology that allows a jacket to be so compact and not inhibit your fishing experience. Although small in design, the jacket inflates to hold 200kg and is above the required life jacket buoyancy standard for your vessel.

People need to understand they can’t rely on cheap safety gear and if they don’t regularly check and maintain their jacket, their jacket may fail them when needed most. The Crewsaver jackets are designed to be worn, fitting with a changing culture where more and more people are making the choice to wear their jacket rather than store them.

See for yourself and head to www.fishandsurvive.com.au to view the full range. All money made from jacket sales go back into fishing safety initiatives around our great state and help us bring West Aussies home after a days fishing.

Safety Technology to Improve Emergency Response Time at Salmon Holes

MEDIA RELEASE
5 August 2016

Safety Technology to Improve Emergency Response Time
– Emergency phone for regional mobile black spot
– Funding provided by Colin Holt, Minister for Housing, Racing and Gaming
– Personal responsibility remains best safety precaution
– Educational and awareness campaigns are essential to behaviour change

The Albany community recently received a boost for fishing safety, with the instalment of an emergency telephone at Albany’s notorious rock fishing location, Salmon Holes.
The Minister for Housing, Racing and Gaming Colin Holt, received a recommendation from the Gaming Community Trust to fund and install an emergency telephone at the well-known high-risk fishing location.

Recfishwest Chief Executive Officer Dr Andrew Rowland said the support from the Government to improve public safety should be commended and as the recipient of the grant, Recfishwest were more than happy to assist in delivering improved safety outcomes.
“This telephone runs on a 3G network in a location with limited to no service. It will provide access to emergency services in a reduced time and complements existing safety infrastructure in a continued effort to keep fishers safe in Albany,” Dr Rowland said.

‘While the emergency phone is a welcomed addition to the state-wide Rock Fishing Safety Strategy, Recfishwest still urges fishers to not become complacent as personal safety is always an individual’s responsibility when fishing.’

The ongoing commitment from Albany’s Department of Parks and Wildlife, local Police, Albany Sea Rescue, Department of Fisheries, Albany Offshore Boating and Fishing Club, the City of Albany, the Life Jacket Loan stores and local volunteers to drive positive change in their local community has been fantastic.
To read the Minister’s Media Release click here.

It is as simple as following these safety steps:
– Know the conditions
– Wear a life jacket
– Wear the correct footwear
– Wear suitable clothing
– Know how to swim

ENDS
Media Contact: Tim Grose 9246 3366, tim@recfishwest.org.au

An Avoidable Tragedy

Recreational fishers have been urged to take more responsibility for their own safety after yet another rock fishing fatality. A 30-year-old man was washed to his death last month while fishing in rough weather, after two fatalities at the same location 12 months earlier. Having taken many steps to educate anglers about rock fishing safety, particularly in Albany (where there are extensive signage and several safety initiatives such as Angel Rings and anchor points), Recfishwest and community partners have again reinforced the folly of rock fishing for salmon during the annual run of this great sportfish.

There are many fantastic spots throughout the South-West where Salmon can easily, and safely, be caught from the beach, even in rough weather. Maps are available that indicate safe fishing spots for salmon around Albany which you can get from local tackle outlets. Anyone who is considering rock fishing should take all the necessary precautions, including wearing personal floatation devices (PFDs) and specialised rock fishing footwear. PFDs are available on loan from 21 locations state-wide at no cost, please see bottom of Broad Cast for the locations. A new emergency telephone will soon be installed at the Salmon Holes as well, to improve emergency response times in another initiative to make fishers safe. However, even with the correct safety gear at their disposal under no circumstances should people risk rock fishing in obviously inclement weather.

Keep the sand between your toes knowing you’ll come home safe from a great day’s fishing!