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.

Perth Boat Show

At this years Perth Boat Show, Recfishwest will be selling Crewsaver Lifejackets.

Stall details TBC.

To purchase tickets to the show, please visit – https://events.ticketbooth.com.au/event/perth-boat-show5391031

My life just passed by – seconds from near death

My name is Steven Armour of Perth, I am 50 years old and as an experienced fisherman as I may have thought, a few simple mistakes nearly cost me my life.

The fishing story I’m about to share will hopefully encourage fellow fishers to reconsider the choices and decisions they make when heading out for a day’s fishing.

I’ve learnt the hard way and it all began on WA’s south coast on Saturday 22nd April 2018.

Listen to the audio on ABC Radio here.

A few simple mistakes nearly cost me my life!

My friends and I were fishing from high rock as we call it, a well-known fishing spot in Wyadup, enjoying the morning so far. I had fished this spot many times and felt confident in my ability to cast from the rocks. We all called out to one another each set of big waves to make sure we were all accounted for and ensured we were moving away from the waves as they hit the rocks. This was an approach I’d used often after losing a cousin in this spot many years earlier.

As I was casting my line and chatting to the others, suddenly a big wave came surging towards us. It literally came out of nowhere and my eyes were on the water watching this wave develop into a ball of water towering higher than the rock we were standing on. We all called out to one another and started to hurry inland, scurrying over the rocks to get to higher ground.

None of us could have braced enough to stay on the rocks in the seconds to follow.

Fortunately for the four people I was fishing with, they were able to scramble to high enough ground just in time and managed to save some of our gear. For me this was not the case.

I didn’t get off the rocks quick enough… My heavy wet weather pants and connected boots and hi vis jacket certainly didn’t help the situation however the PDF lifejacket I was wearing was still secured tightly and in my opinion probably saved me… Under water and barrel rolled backward about 15 metres into a crevice of salty pool water I laid. Wet, cut, torn clothing and my rod and reel broken with my esky, bait and fish gone!

Both my legs copped it really hard that day. All I could do was cover my face with my arms, hold my head tightly and hope it would finish quickly. The pictures don’t do it justice as the water that hit was possibly 3 times higher than these pics.

But I’m here to tell fellow fishers, never ever trust the water. Always be prepared for the day, never turn your back on the water, wear appropriate clothing and check the weather before-hand. If the swell or weather isn’t good, then don’t go fishing!

The Winter Salmon hunt was in my sights and I knew we could be in for some large swells given the recent weather updates however I thought we would be prepared enough. I’d put on my wet weather gear, I’d bought the bait, ice, lures and I’d fished at this spot for many years.

I’m not too proud to say that I made a mistake. My friends would have much preferred me to change plans and fish somewhere more sheltered perhaps, then to take the risk we did.

For all the years I’ve fished, I’ve never wore a lifejacket and my close friends can verify I am not a good swimmer. This trip was different; I had 4 others accompanying me who didn’t have a lot of

rock fishing experience. Prior to the trip away I had explained to them some 35 years ago my family lost a Cousin at the very rocks we were heading to. He too was swept off by a wave and sadly died in the water. This was the very reason for my mind set change which made me turn around in the car park at my local tackle store, head back in and ask to purchase a lifejacket. I felt it was a good idea to set the example for new comers and take some responsibility for myself.

With previous media coverage about fishers being swept off rocks in our State and the death of my cousin whilst rock fishing, I just wanted to be safe and return home to my loved ones. I’ve learnt a few lessons from that day and I hope it helps others out there.

I wasn’t aware at the time that Recfishwest have a free loan life jacket program and from today onward I would strongly recommend anyone planning a fishing trip to consider hiring one, better yet, purchase your own, it could save your life.

Recfishwest have offered 15% off their manual and automatic Crewsaver lifejackets to all fishers that use the discount code STEVEN on the Fish and Survive Lifejacket page.

Safe fishing everyone.

Steven Armour

Perth Western Australia.

Listen to the audio on ABC Radio here.

Opportunity to Improve Fishing Safety via New Lifejacket Trial

Opportunity to Improve Fishing Safety via New Lifejacket Trial

On April 2nd, 2018 a local Albany man lost his life after being swept into the water while fishing at the Deeps and on April 28th, 2018 two fishermen were swept from the Rocks at Salmon Holes and are lucky to be alive. In both instances none of the fishermen were wearing a life jacket.

On April 29th the WA Premier Mark McGowan announced the state Government would invest in a trial of mandatory wearing of lifejackets for rock fishers at ‘Blackspots’ in WA.

Recfishwest are champions of fishing safety, having a strong track record of activities aimed at keeping fishers safe.  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.

While Recfishwest do not support a blanket approach to the mandatory wearing of lifejackets for rock fishers state-wide, this trial is a great opportunity to answer a number of important questions.

Details of the trial are still unknown and Recfishwest look forward to providing input when requested and gain a better understanding how this trial initiative complements current fishing safety initiatives such as safety signs, rock anchor points and Angel Rings.  We are interested to learn more about the details of the trial such as when it will commence, how long will it run for and who will run it.  We are also very interested in specific details around the types of life jackets types that will be used in the trial.

If fishing safety in WA is to truly benefit from this trial it must be constructed in a way that is guided by the best available information. Recfishwest expect the trial objectives to be clear, the trial methods to be robust and the trial outcomes to be measurable.

Lifejackets for rock fishing are not a one size fits all solution and this trial provides an opportunity to assess a range of lifejacket types and determine the appropriate lifejacket/s specific to WA’s high risk rock fishing locations – (block foam, manual inflate, auto inflate, Aust. standards, buoyancy, servicing requirements, abrasion resistance, swimming ability, swell size, cost, practicality, user friendly).

“Recfishwest would rather people understand why they need to wear a lifejacket and choose to wear one vs having to wear one because they are scared of getting a fine.”

Fact File:

In the past 16 years (2002 – 2018) on average 2 lives (29 total) are lost every year across WA’s 20,000km of coastline as a result of fishing from rocks. We believe all of these fatalities are preventable and we will continue be proactive in the promotion of lifejackets for everyone.

Recfishwest are currently leading WA’s fishing safety strategy which focuses on risk management and encouraging/ educating people to avoid rock fishing when appropriate (including our latest ‘Keep the Sand Between Your Toes’ campaign).

To the broader non-fishing community this issue appears quite black and white, ‘oh yeah let’s just introduce a piece of legislation mandating the use of life jackets,’ but from a practical perspective and from a general fisher knowledge perspective it’s actually a lot more complex than that.

We all know lifejackets play a very important part of fishing safety however Recfishwest believe people must take personal responsibility more seriously and make better decisions on when and where they go fishing. Lifejackets only work when you’re in the water and there are plenty of other safety steps and decisions people need to make before they even get onto a rock to go fishing.

To read our position on the mandating of wearing lifejackets while rock fishing and some examples of the work we do (along with our partners) to help ensure West Aussies return home safe after a days fishing, visit: https://recfishwest.org.au/news/recfishwests-position-on-the-mandatory-wearing-of-lifejackets-whilst-fishing-from-rocks/

What’s stopping you?

There a range of lifejackets available on the market worldwide suitable for a variety of aquatic activities.

They vary depending on the activity undertaken, situation, size, age and price you want to spend. There are a huge range of complexities that you need to consider before purchasing a lifejacket, and some are:

  • Swimming capability
  • Aquatic activity
  • Undertaking activities alone or with others
  • Size and age of person
  • Risk of vessel capsizing
  • Risk of falling from boat
  • Tides / swell
  • Weather conditions
  • Location of activities
  • Smooth rock – jagged rock
  • Water temperature
  • What other safety gear you have
  • Restriction of movement with jacket on
  • Servicing requirements
  • Legal requirements

No wonder you’ve had a hard time determining what jacket is fit for purpose for you and your family. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to lifejackets so here at Recfishwest, we’ve done the work for you and detailed the features for lifejackets available to you in Australia.

We aim to provide you with enough information and knowledge to empower you to make your own decisions.

Things you should know before purchasing your lifejacket:

For the people that think purchasing a lifejacket is too expensive, consider how much you spend on fuel, bait, fishing gear or lunch – all deemed by some as essential items for your fishing trip. Purchasing a lifejacket is the same concept, it’s a given when venturing out for the day and is no longer deemed ‘just’ safety equipment.

“Some people may not think lifejackets are the coolest part of their fishing kit, but if you don’t measure cool as whether you come home at the end of the day or not, then it’s time to reconsider.”

 

 

“Choosing the slim line crew saver PFD was an easy choice for me as it never gets in the way when I’m fishing and not long after putting it on, I completely forgot I’m even wearing it,” Jacob Crispe (Rock fisherman in the Southwest).

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I feel safe in these jackets despite their size,  and the comfortable design doesn’t limit my ability to move around and fish.  Its not even a question to whether or not I’ll wear it. It’s with me every time I go out on the water. ” Alanna Hubbard 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The technology has evolved so far from the old foam block jackets that you couldn’t physically wear when out fishing to these new slimline lifejackets that you put on at the boat ramp and leave on all day with no affect on my fishing,” Dr Andrew Rowland, Recfishwest CEO.

 

*Please note Level 100 and higher lifejackets provide a high level of buoyancy and are approved for use in unprotected waters (DOT). So please ensure your lifejacket meets this standard before purchasing

Did you know we offer a $15 discount as part of the Old4New lifejacket Scheme? Click here to find out how.

Try Before You Buy!! We offer over 160 FREE Loan Lifejackets across 21 locations throughout WA, where members of the public can borrow a lifejacket at no cost for the day! See where you can test one out here!

Ready to purchase your own life jackets please visit fishandsurvive.com.au

Still like to know more? Read our debunking lifejacket myths article – http://ilovefishing.com.au/2017/05/02/life-jacket-myths/

For more on legal requirements and the types of jackets, visit: https://www.transport.wa.gov.au/imarine/life-jackets.asp

To read our position on mandatory wearing of lifejackets from the rocks click here.

To read our position on mandatory wearing of lifejackets while on a boat click here.

Still unsure, give us a call in the office – (08) 9246 3366