Recfishwest Welcomes Continued Commitment to Support Safe Fishing as Major Milestone Achieved

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

Recfishwest and Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) 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 to 8am on the first Sunday of each month until March.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said abalone wasone of the most sought-after shellfish, with more than 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 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 three deaths while abalone fishing and in the past three 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:

  • 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;
  • Observe first, fish later – do not attempt to fish if you are unsure. Read the warnings and dangers on any safety signs;
  • Wear appropriate clothing or wetsuits – avoid heavy clothing, including tracksuits and work boots that become water logged and heavy;
  • Never fish alone – stay in a group and keep an eye out for your friends and other fishers;
  • Don’t panic – if in trouble stay calm and raise one arm and wave from side to side to attract attention; and,
  • A bag limit of 15 Roe’s abalone per person, per day in the West Coast Zone applies.

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.

Albany to get 10 New Angel Rings

In another major step towards safeguarding the lives of recreational fishers, 10 new Angel Rings will soon be installed at popular rock fishing locations around Albany.
Rock fishing is a very dangerous pastime and many lives have been lost, not just along the south coast but all along the WA coastline.

Prevention is the best cure and there are many steps rock fishers can take to ensure their safety, and tips on these can be found at www.fishandsurvive.org.au
However, Angel Rings are life buoys which can be thrown to anyone who unfortunately finds themselves in the water, and greatly increase the chance to survival until rescue in that scenario.

Recfishwest, with the help of community partners, are helping get Angel Rings placed at a number of key rock fishing locations around WA.
Spots close to Albany where new Angel Rings are soon to be installed are The Deeps, Lowland, Cable Beach, Blow Holes, The Steps, Tourist Rock at Cheynes Beach, Three Stripes at Cheynes Beach, Dunsky’s and Maitraya.

There were already Angel Rings in place at the Salmon Holes, and they have also been installed at locations around Kalbarri and Esperance recently with Denmark’s rings not too far away from being installed.  The latest installations in Albany have been driven by the Department of Parks and Wildlife and the City of Albany.  The City of Albany’s Cameron Woods welcomed the installations as a great community asset.

“The installations are an important part of the mix to keep local residents and our visitors safe whilst enjoying our amazing coastal environments,” he said.

“The installations combined with signage and an education awareness campaign is designed to reduce the loss of life and the associated impact this has on families and communities.”

Local rock fishing safety advocate Andrew Jarvis welcomed the news.

“I am very pleased to have been part of the group that has organised to get the Angel Rings in place and it is good to see different government departments working together,” he said.

“I believe Peter Hartley, the district manager from DPaW, has been the primary driver behind the push on rock fishing safety and he deserves a big pat on the back for his efforts.”

With our state government 3-year rock fishing safety funding coming to a close, Recfishwest will be pushing to receive another round of funding to keep fishers safe in WA and incite behaviour change within our communities.

Catch Salmon and Return Home this Easter

Catch Salmon and Return Home Safe this Easter

With the Easter long weekend approaching, Recfishwest are reminding people to take personal responsibility and stay safe when fishing this salmon season.  Recfishwest Chief Executive Officer Dr Andrew Rowland said locations such as Albany and Esperance welcome a large population increase during the Easter period for the great salmon run on their annual migration around the West Australian coast.

“Salmon are a superb sports fish, however, it’s not worth putting your life at risk when the salmon turn up” Dr Rowland said.

South coast locations popular with salmon fishes often see unpredictable weather and large swells which can make fishing from the rocks dangerous.

“The excitement of a good salmon run often sees people overlook simple steps that ensure their safety, as they rush to go fishing from the rocks unprepared.”
“For those fishing this Easter, Recfishwest strongly recommends fishing from the beach.’’ Dr Rowland said.

Local Albany fishermen and well respected fishing safety advocate Andrew Jarvis urges people to stay off the rocks.

‘’We simply do not want anymore more deaths. If you must fish from the rocks make sure you are prepared.”

Dr Rowland praised the tireless work by community groups, volunteers and state and local governments to make fishers safe, especially on the south coast.

“The work that has been done in Esperance, Albany and surrounds, which are our most high risk locations, to make people safe is enormous and a big thank you to the people making people aware of safe fishing practices in the those areas” Dr Rowland said.

Recfishwest continues to promote and support the Free Loan Life Jacket Scheme in 20 tackle stores around the state, where fishers can go in and hire a free life jacket before the head out fishing.
“If the right precautions are followed, fishing from the rocks can be a safe activity.’’ Dr Rowland said.

If you must fish from the rocks, Recfishwest wants fishers to understand the simple rock fishing safety messages:
• Know how to swim
• Wear a life jacket
• Never fish alone
• Observe first, fish later
• Wear appropriate clothing and footwear
• Be familiar with public safety equipment
• Tell someone your plans.

Lobster Etiquette a Must

The annual recreational lobster season has started in fine style and Recfishwest wants to remind all recreational fishers to act responsibly when targeting these valuable crustaceans.
Last year, there were many reports of pots belonging to recreational fishers being illegally interfered with. These included witnesses seeing their pots pulled by other people, and of pots also being removed.

Some pot thieves are suspected of cutting off floats and replacing them with their own, while there were also suspicions of divers removing lobster from pots. There are significant fines for tampering with other people’s pots and recreational fishers are also reminded pots cannot be pulled before 4.30am.  Anyone diving for crays is also reminded to make sure they use a dive flag, to alert other marine users to their presence.

As with any type of fishing, safety is paramount for all involved.  Fishing rigs that become entangled with lobster pots have the potential to cause severe injury to anyone who subsequently pulls the pot.  If you lose a rig to a lobster pot rope, take steps to mark the rope to alert the owner of the pot to the danger. The best idea is to tie a tag of some kind to the rope or tie the floats together if the pot has more than one float.

Boating safety is also paramount when lobster fishing and in addition to having all the required safety equipment there are some simple steps to reduce the risk of rope entanglement. These steps include using non-buoyant upper line , coiling surplus line, using a highly visible float and not setting pots on the leads to anchorages. Boaties can also reduce the risk of becoming entangled by keeping a good look out, not traveling at night and passing on the leeward side of a float.

Check the weather conditions before launching and leave the pots for another day if the ocean is likely to be too rough to ensure safety.
Observing boat ramp etiquette is also important for lobster fishers – be mindful of your place in the queue when both launching and retrieving and always have your boat ready for launch before you back down the ramp.

Make sure you have a rope on the boat to tie it off to the jetty and try the motor before you put the boat in the water.  Once you start pulling the pots, remember to always clip the tails of any lobster you intend to keep within five minutes of catching them.  Always measure your lobsters before keeping them, with a legal minimum carapace length of 76mm for Western Rock Lobster.

Southern Rock Lobster – Legal Carapace size of 98.5mm. Western Rock Lobster’s are legal at 76mm
Undersized lobster, and lobsters in reproductive condition (berried, seatosed and tar spot), must be returned to the water . You need a current licence from Fisheries to fish for lobster and the daily bag limit is eight per licence holder for Western and Southern Rock Lobsters and 4 per day for Tropical and Ornate Lobsters.

As you would have heard, new lobster rules to benefit lobster fishers are now available on the Dept of Fisheries website.