Recfishwest’s Position on the Mandatory Wearing of Lifejackets Whilst Fishing From Rocks

**Updated April 2018

Recfishwest’s Position on the Mandatory Wearing of Lifejackets whilst Fishing from Rocks –
Education Not Legislation

We believe everyone should return home safe after a day’s fishing – whether it be in a boat, in a kayak or from rocks. Recfishwest believes everyone should wear lifejackets when appropriate and look after their own personal safety when fishing from rocks.


Recfishwest currently does not support legislation mandating the wearing of lifejackets while fishing from rocks. We will consider the compulsory wearing of lifejackets under certain circumstances and certain locations, however we do not believe a statewide blanket approach is appropriate.  We believe education offers greater long term positive safety outcomes than legislation.

Recfishwest would rather people understand why they need to wear a jacket and choose to wear one vs having to wear one because they are scared of getting a fine!


Recfishwest are champions of fishing safety having a strong track record of activities aimed at keeping fishers safe. We believe everyone should return home safe after a day’s fishing. Recfishwest strongly advocate that those who fish from exposed rocky shorelines should wear appropriate lifejackets, nevertheless we believe the choice to wear a lifejacket when fishing from the rocks should remain that of individual fishers. In the past 16 years (2002 – 2018) on average less than 2 lives/ each year have been lost across WA’s 12,000km of coastline due to fishing from rocks. We believe the acceptable number should be ‘0’ lives lost and we will continue be proactive in the promotion of lifejackets for everyone!

WA has extensive and highly diverse coastal locations and a large range of conditions where fishing occurs. We believe well informed fishers are in the best position to make decisions about their own personal safety.

A blanket statewide approach enforcing mandatory wearing of lifejackets upon those who choose to fish from rocks is inappropriate and implementation of any mandatory program would be complex and problematic. *These complexities are currently being explored.

In jurisdictions where the use of lifejackets when fishing from rocks has been mandated (New South Wales), perverse outcomes placing fishers at greater risk has resulted. Educating the fishing public about the advancements of new slimline lifejackets and empowering them to make informed decisions offers greater long term positive safety outcomes than legislation.

Recfishwest along with partners work hard to educate fishers through the provision of quality safety information aimed at changing behaviour. This information allows people to make better decisions. Education is supported with improved access to fishing safety equipment such as Angel Rings (Life Rings), Rock Anchor Points (Rock Bolts) and free-loan slimline lifejackets at high risk locations.

Recfishwest believes fishers must ultimately take responsibility for their own personal safety.

Recfishwest will continue to promote safe fishing practises and provide the community with the right tools and information to make an informed decision so they can return home safe.

Here are some examples of the work we do to help ensure West Aussies return home safe after a days fishing:

  • Oversee WA’s statewide Angel Ring program – with 66 Angel Rings being installed by land managers
  • Oversee the Statewide Free Life Jacket Loan Scheme – provision of over 160 Free lifejackets for loan across 21 locations
  • Development and printing of 40,000 rock fishing flyers – interpreted into 11 languages
  • The Recfishwest Fish and Survive Website – providing fishing safety information to WA fishers
  • Partnership with WA’s Department of Transport statewide ‘Old for New’ lifejacket program
  • Partnering with Fisheries and Surf Life Saving WA around Abalone Fishing Safety
  • Presenting safety messaging at our 50 yearly statewide family fishing clinics (reaching 2,000+ families each year)
  • Funding and promotion of the ‘Bluewater Freedivers Safety Float’
  • Funding and support for shallow water blackout training for freedivers
  • Specific lifejacket focus at the Perth International Boat Show and other shows (Perth Caravan and Camping Show, Mandurah Boat Show etc.)
  • Lifejacket presentations and information nights at statewide fishing and sailing clubs
  • Development of lifejacket safety videos
  • Targeted campaigns with stakeholder and government agencies
  • Active member on the WA Department of Transport’s External Reference Group for the review of ‘Safety Equipment on Recreational Safety Vessels’
  • Promote fishing safety to the WA fishing public though:
    • Australia’s largest digital fishing publication (the Recfishwest ‘Broad Cast’) with over 73,000 recipients monthly
    • WA’s largest weekly statewide Recfishwest Fishing Reports with over 9,000 recipients (from Kununurra to Esperance)
    • WA’s only Fishing Rules App (with over 3.8million screen views/ past 12 months)
    • Radio and media

We Want Everyone to Return Home Safe After a Day’s Fishing

There’s nothing more important than returning home safe after a day’s fishing.

Recfishwest is a key stakeholder in fishing safety in Western Australia. We work alongside partners to ensure that fishers are provided with the correct information on which to make decisions around safe fishing practices.

This Spring has already seen a few incidents which are a timely reminder to ensure that safety is at the front of our minds when we undertake the pastime we all love. Fortunately, these incidents have had happy endings.

October saw a lucky Perth crayfisher rescued off the coast of Trigg by a passing yacht, having fallen from his boat whilst pulling cray pots. He spent two hours in cold, rough conditions before being spotted by a passing yacht who came to his aid. The yacht’s skipper Mick Macfarlane recalled how lucky the fisher was to be pulled from the water.

“He had the violent shivers…he couldn’t talk to us much” Mr Macfarlane said.

It is understood that the man was not wearing a life jacket despite fishing alone in his boat on a rough day.

November saw two divers rescued from Stragglers having been caught in a current whilst diving near Rottnest Island. A passing private boat found the pair after a full-scale search was launched including Police, Sea Rescue and Private Vessels.

Both of these incidents highlight the need for fishers to consider their safety when undertaking all manner of fishing activities throughout our state. Fishing can be dangerous in the wrong conditions and Recfishwest recommend taking the following precautions to ensure safe fishing experiences:

• Always tell someone where you are going, and what time you are expected home
• Know and understand the conditions before heading out
• Always carry appropriate safety equipment
• Always wear a life jacket

For more information on safety equipment, including what we believe is the best value for money life jackets currently available, visit our website at www.fishandsurvive.com.au.  This site has all you need to know about staying safe whilst fishing as well as great prices on the Crewsaver range of life jackets.

Make sure you visit to ensure you return home safe at the end of a day’s fishing.

Community Heroes Keeping Fishers Safe in the Gascoyne

It is common knowledge that the WA coast can be unforgiving. In our state alone we have lost 27 people from rock fishing incidents since 2002, an alarmingly high number for our beloved past time. This is a strong reminder that fishers must always consider the dangers when fishing along our coast.

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

Earlier this month Recfishwest’s Safety Officer Bronte Nardi, traveled to the Gascoyne to work with rock fishing safety partners to see how the safety initiatives were progressing and to discuss some potential improvements in the area.

Tim and Sara at Quobba Station have been fantastic with their support of Angel Rings and life jackets.

Recently, Recfishwest has been working with the owners of Quobba Station who have installed new Angel Rings (Life Rings) at high-risk fishing locations along the Quobba coast. They believe in the program and have been more than willing to get their hands dirty and lend a hand.

Angel rings are also located at two other hardcore fishing locations in the Gascoyne, Steep Point and Dirk Hartog Island, where plenty of avid fishers venture each year for their thrill of land-based game fishing, but who sometimes come unstuck on the rocks. 

Angel Rings are not the only piece of safety equipment available in the Gascoyne region to ensure you return home safe after landing some great catches of shore-based Mackerel or Tuna. You can also make the most of Recfishwest’s FREE Loan Life Jacket Program, where you can hire (at no cost) slimline, lightweight fishing life jackets, the Crewsaver 165. We have locations in the area with local businesses such as Carnarvon Tackle and Marine, Tel-O-Mac Tackle (Carnarvon), Quobba Station and Steep Point Ranger Station supporting the program, so why not pay them a visit, talk fishing and grab a free jacket for the day?!

Bronte Nardi said a lot of people in the WA community are working tirelessly to keep rock fishers safe.

‘’Without the support of local businesses, the FREE Loan Life Jacket Program would not exist.’’

“These operators are locals, they know the conditions and they want to see an end to fishing fatalities in their towns,” Bronte said.

Recfishwest is once again stressing the importance of taking personal responsibility for your own safety while fishing, by observing conditions and using appropriate safety equipment.

On your next fishing trip with your family and friends to the Gascoyne, please make sure you stay safe, wear a life jacket (hire a free one) and return home safe.

 

 

 

Safety Equipment Available in the Gascoyne: 

Free Loan Life Jacket Retailers: 

Carnarvon Tackle and Marine
Tel-O-Mac Tackle (Carnarvon)
Quobba Station
Steep Point Ranger Station

Locations of Angel Rings:

Dirk Hartog Island:
– Quion Head
– Urchin Point
– West Point

Steep Point:
– False Entrance
– Thunder Bay Blow Holes
– The Oven
– The Fault Line

Quobba:
– Blowholes
– Old Boundary
– Loopy’s
– High Rock
– 2 Mile
– Whistling Rock
– The Ledge
– Camp Rock
– The Caves

Recfishwest’s Statewide Fish and Survive Program, including the Free Life Jacket Loan Scheme, is proudly funded by the Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development, Division of Fisheries.

Fishing Safety – It’s Your Responsibility

With the saddening news of the latest rock fishing fatality at Quobba, Recfishwest is appealing to rock fishers to fish safely, especially during the Winter months.

Our condolences are with the man’s family, who tragically lost his life while fishing from Quobba’s High Rock, after being swept in on August 13.

High Rock – Quobba

Quobba can produce some great land based fishing opportunities, but the risk to you, your friends and family is very high. With vertical cliffs, jagged sharp rocks and big swell, Quobba fishing should only be attempted by people with the right gear and are experienced rock fishers.

Recfishwest has been working with the owners of Quobba Station over the past few months who have recently installed new Angel Rings (Life Rings) at high risk fishing locations along the Quobba coast. We understand that one of the Angel Rings was thrown in a rescue attempt during the incident.

Locations of the Nine Angel Rings recently installed at Quobba are:
Blowholes
Old Boundary
Loopy’s
High Rock
2 Mile
Whistling Rock
The Ledge
Camp Rock
The Caves

Angel Rings are not the only safety equipment that can be used at Quobba to ensure you return home safe. Quobba Stationis a location for Recfishwest’s FREE Life Jacket Loan Scheme, where FREE compact fishing life jackets can be loaned for rock fishers. FREE life jackets can also be loaned from Carnarvon Tackle and Marine, and Tel-O-Mac Tackle (Carnarvon).

Some time ago, passionate and safe rock fishers, also installed rock anchor points into the cliffs at Quobba, adding an additional option for rock fishers to tie themselves onto.

Knowing winter serves up rougher weather conditions (particularly on the West Coast), it is a strong reminder that fishers must always consider the dangers when fishing along our coast.

Wearing a slim line life jacket won’t impede on your fishing.

Recfishwest Fishing Safety Officer Bronte Nardi said a lot of people in the WA (and Australian) community are working tirelessly to keep rock fishers safe, now it’s time for rock fishers to help by minimising the risk of them going in the water.

“Over 150 FREE Life Jackets can loaned from a lot WA tackle shops, Angel Rings are being installed by land managers at high risk fishing locations, fishing safety awareness material are being produced – now we need people who fish from rocks to eliminate

Old rock anchor points at Quobba should be used to tie yourself onto whilst fishing.

the risks, prepare accordingly and return home safe,” Ms Nardi appealed.

 

“It’s never nice hearing the news of a missing fisher, and the feeling was definitely echoed through the community, as the majority of people understand the dangers of rock fishing,” Ms Nardi said.

“Recfishwest are once again stressing the importance of taking personal responsibility of your own safety while fishing, by observing conditions and using appropriate safety equipment.”

 

If you must fish from the rocks, please follow these simple fishing safety messages:
• Know how to swim
• Wear a life jacket
• Never fish alone
• Observe first, fish later
• Use appropriate safety equipment
• Tell someone your plans

For more Information on rock fishing safety please visit, http://recfishwest.org.au/our-services/fishing-safety/ or www.fishandsurvive.com.au

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.