Rock fishing safety discussed after another tragic death

SAFETY GEAR: Narooma News journalist Stan Gorton speaks to Darren "Dash" Bowater at the Narooma Ocean Hut Compleat Angler about the safety gear available to rock fishers. Watch the video embedded in this article.
SAFETY GEAR: Narooma News journalist Stan Gorton speaks to Darren "Dash" Bowater at the Narooma Ocean Hut Compleat Angler about the safety gear available to rock fishers. Watch the video embedded in this article.

News another angler has died after being swept off rocks, this time at Kioloa, north of Batemans Bay, has prompted a look at what rock safety fishing gear is available and how to stay safe on the rocks.

Emergency services were called to Merry Beach, Kioloa, shortly after 7.30am on Saturday, July 22, after reports a man had been swept off rocks and into the ocean.

Shoalhaven Police, with the assistance of Westpac Life Rescue Helicopter, attended and located a man face down dead in the water.

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Details such as whether the man was wearing a life jacket or was fishing alone have not been released. He has not been formally identified and a report will be prepared for the Coroner.

On Saturday morning, a dangerous surf warning was issued for waters along the coast for Illawarra, Batemans Bay and Eden by the Bureau of Meteorology.

The powerful surf forecast for Saturday and Sunday prompted the bureau to warn against participating in coastal activities such as rock fishing, boating and swimming.

The death came on the first weekend the bureau issued its new weather warning to increase the safety of rock fishers, boaters and swimmers in and around coastal waters.

The Hazardous Surf Warning service highlights dangerous conditions due to swells created by weather systems far off the coast.

In effort to avoid such tragedies, the Australian National Sportfishing Association wants more angel rings, or throwable ring-shaped life preservers, along the Far South Coast.

ANSA member and Tuross Fishing Club secretary Max Castle is seeking locations where local fishers fish off the rocks and to recommend where they think new angel rings should be located. He is particularly interested in areas south of Narooma where he has not yet received feedback on possible locations.

“We are also planning to apply more pressure on the Government and Lands Department to get on with providing approval and address current insurance issues relating to angel rings,” Mr Castle said.

Suggestions for placement can be made to Mr Castle on 0412 468 375.

Mr Castle said rocker fishers should follow four basic rules.

The first is to listen to the weather reports and swell warnings and avoid fishing in big seas. Always sit and watch your rock fishing spot for up to half an hour to get an idea of the surf conditions and how high the waves are breaking.

He recommends always wearing a life jacket and also special rock fishing boots or cleats to help grip slippery rock surfaces.

Finally, rock fisherman should also fish near one of the angel rings placed at popular spots and fish with at least one buddy, so that an angel ring can be thrown and the alarm raised in the event of being washed off the rocks.

Fairfax Media visited Narooma Ocean Hut Compleat Angler to find out what rock fishing safety gear was available and to get tips.

Darren “Dash” Bowater, like Mr Castle, said always check the weather before going rock fishing and also never turn your back on the ocean.

Special rock fishing life jackets and shoes are available, but he said always follow servicing guidelines for new inflatable life jackets.

There was a trial of making life jackets compulsory in one Sydney council area and he said it would not surprise him if their regulations were extended to the rest of the state.

The death has prompted police to remind rock anglers to follow these safety tips every time they venture out:

  • Always wear a life jacket
  • Make enquiries and check weather and conditions before you leave home
  • Observe first/fish later: watch your intended fishing spot to get an idea of the conditions over a full swell/wave cycle
  • Carry safety gear; head protection, as well as a float and line to help anyone else who might be washed into the water.
  • Never fish by yourself and always stand within sight of each other
  • Make sure you let family and friends know where you are going and when you’ll be back
  • Carry a mobile phone
  • Never fish in exposed areas during rough or large seas and be aware that conditions may change dramatically in a short period of time
  • Stay alert. Never turn your back on the sea
  • If waves, the weather or swell threaten your fishing spot, leave immediately
  • If in doubt, don’t go out

In the event of an emergency, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.

Further safety information can be found at: www.safefishing.com.au

This story Rock fishing safety discussed after another tragic death first appeared on Narooma News.