Phone tower plan delays at infamous fishing spot puts lives at risk

Recfishwest has hit out at further delays for improving safer fishing infrastructure at an infamous fishing location in our State’s South, more than seven years after the tragic deaths of two fishermen there.  

Chunjun Li, 42, and Jiaolong Zhang, 38, were rock fishing at the infamous Salmon Holes in Albany onApril 18, 2015, during dangerous swell conditions. 

Neither were wearing life jackets before they were swept into the water by a rogue wave. Mr Li surfaced on a nearby beach, but bystanders were unable to revive him. Mr Zhang’s body was never recovered despite an intensive land, sea and air search over four days.  

After the tragedy unravelled, the deputy state coroner made five crucial recommendations. One of those was all rock fishers were required to wear life jackets at Salmon Holes, another called for Telstra to install a mobile phone tower in the area to ensure better phone coverage in the event of future emergencies. 

The need for this tower is paramount as the only current mobile coverage at Salmon Holes is in the carpark – an extremely dangerous proposition for someone in an emergency.  

As seen in this image, conditions at Salmon Holes in Albany can turn nasty. Thankfully it was a lucky escape for the anglers pictured on the right.

Recfishwest continues to place a high priority on safe fishing information and infrastructure improvements as part of our safe fishing program.  

Under this program, we call for better provision of communication infrastructure to allow for quicker response times from emergency services in the event of incidents involving fishers.  

Find a range of safe fishing resources on our website here    

Telstra tried to install a mobile base at Salmon Holes several years ago where the men lost their lives as part of their mobile blackspot program, although the site was declined by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) due to their concerns on the visual amenity impacts of the national park.  

No other locations could be negotiated, so the plans were abandoned. Telstra are now spending the next few months finalising the design of a new tower to be placed at Cave Point lighthouse, a 13.25-metre structure which sits between The Gap and the Blowholes in Albany. 

DBCA have confirmed it was working with Telstra to assess the project’s feasibility. If the site is given the green light, construction is expected to start in March of 2023. 

Recfishwest firmly supports the development of infrastructure that makes fishing safer, such as the deployment of Angel Rings at all dangerous fishing locations.

“The fact that it has taken all this time for Telstra and DBCA to come to an agreement for plans for a mobile phone mast eight years after these two men tragically lost their lives while rock fishing beggars belief,” said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland. “Furthermore, fact that construction on the mast isn’t expected to start until next year is simply unacceptable and is putting fishers’ lives at risk.”  

“With the high levels of telecommunication technology we have in our society, there really is no excuse for popular fishing and outdoors locations such as this not to have phone coverage – and certainly not after a coronial inquest recommendations have been made for that to happen.  

“We will continue to press for better telecommunications infrastructure on the south coast and other remote parts of the state where people go to fish – it’s a crucial factor in making sure everyone comes home safe after a day’s fishing, as well as all West Australian’s who enjoy experiencing our great outdoors.”  

Telstra confirmed it signed a funding agreement for the project several months ago in liaison with federal and state governments. The lighthouse that is being touted as the new Telstra tower location is managed by DBCA and is closed off to the public.  

Telstra also constructed a new coverage site at Emu Point back in June and other southern areas such as Pingrup, Spencer Park, Mount Adelaide and Jerramungup. All of these areas are expected to have completed 5G upgrades by the end of September.  

Recfishwest also understands there are question marks over whether the phone mast coverage will extend to Salmon Holes. Clearly, more questions need to be answered here.

Recfishwest’s position on mandatory wearing of lifejackets while fishing from rocks

Updated: April 2018

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. Continue reading “Recfishwest’s position on mandatory wearing of lifejackets while fishing from rocks”

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

Kalbarri Fishing Club Making Safety Happen

The Kalbarri Offshore and Angling Club, along with community partners and the Department of Parks and Wildlife are doing their bit to keep fishers safe around the coast of Kalbarri.
A renown rock fishing location, the cliffs of Kalbarri present huge challenges for both beginners and experienced fishers. Although quality fish can be caught from the Kalbarri cliffs, the dangers that come with fishing here outweigh any fish.

Recfishwest provided 5 Angel Rings to the Kalbarri Offshore and Angling Club and DPaW to install at designated high-risk fishing locations, and with no hesitations installed the rings to ensure fishers are kept as safe as possible when rock fishing.

As reported in our last Broad Cast, Kalbarri Sports and Dive tackle shop are now a Free Life Jacket Loan location with 5 jackets available to hire for anyone going rock fishing in an extension of the state wide Life Jacket Loan scheme bringing the number of locations to 19. Recfishwest is thrilled with the efforts of the local fishing club, the tackle shop and community partners and shows they care about public safety and willing to help at all costs.

Kalbarri Angling and Offshore Fishing Club President Cheryl Eley said fishing is such an important recreation for locals and tourists here, that installing safety equipment on the rocks was essential to keeping fishers safe.

“We’re not experts in safety, but any safety initiative that involves the local community and strives to keep people safe, is a win win for the fishing club and the Kalbarri community” Cheryl said.

“We’re proud to be a part of the rock fishing safety initiative and the club guys who installed the rings deserve a huge pat on the back.”

“We had a local go in off the rocks over the Christmas period and one of the existing Angel Rings was used to save his life. That’s proof these devices work and we’re happy to have new ones installed in case someone else goes in.”

With the recent success of the Kalbarri Sports Classic and the huge influx of tourists during the holiday season, these safety initiatives couldn’t have come at a better time.