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.
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.