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Shock measures taken to increase safety for Sydney’s rock fishers

February 10, 2016

 Bright red ‘shock’ signs featuring a skull and cross bones with a death ‘scoreboard’ are being installed at rock fishing black spots along Sydney’s eastern suburbs in a bid to increase safety.

Each sign features changeable numbers tallying the nearby rock fishing deaths.

The Randwick City Council initiative follows the NSW Government’s announcement on the weekend of plans to introduce compulsory life jackets for rock fishers in blackspot areas like the Randwick City coastline where 17 people have died in the past decade.

Randwick Mayor Noel D’Souza said the shock signs were a last resort.

“Despite the ongoing warnings and education campaigns, people continue to die from rock fishing. This is a dangerous past time and it is enormously sad to think of the pain and anguish that the families of the 17 men who died while rock fishing in our area must be going through, even to this day,” Mayor D’Souza said.

The idea for the shock signs came from a survey of local rock fishers conducted by Randwick City Council in 2013 as a proactive initiative of the former Randwick Mayor Tony Bowen.

The survey showed a staggering 42% of rock fishers were unaware that people had died at the same spot they were fishing. When shown a mock-up of the shock signage, 62% said they would change their behaviour after learning of the fatalities.

A 2015 Coronial Inquest into rock fishing deaths in NSW by Deputy State Coroner Magistrate Forbes picked up on the survey and recommended the signs be installed.

“Education is the key,” Mayor Noel D’Souza said. “Our research shows that once people are aware of the dangers, they are likely to modify their behaviour by fishing a different ledge, changing their approach, wearing a life jacket, being more cautious or perhaps not fishing that day.”

The shock signs have been developed in consultation with NSW Fisheries, Surf Life Saving, police, Council Lifeguards, fishing associations and tackle shops. They include translations in Korean, Vietnamese and simplified and traditional Chinese.

Malcolm Poole NSW Recreational Fishing Alliance Safety Officer has been working with the Council on the signs.

“Hopefully anglers will take note of these new signs and modify their behaviour putting their safety first when fishing.”

“Rock fishers should be aware if the coastal rock platforms look unsafe, the swell sloppy, unpredictable and dangerous looking, then there are safer fishing locations in and around La Perouse, Bare Island and Botany Bay.”

“One hope is that this ’shock signage’ will see rock fishers better prepared next time they visit these rock platforms in the Randwick City area to have a fish, by ensuring they have the right safety gear such as a suitable life jacket, wearing light clothing and have the right footwear.”

The shock signs are being installed in nine locations along the Randwick City coastline at well-known rock fishing black spots in Maroubra, Malabar, Little Bay and La Perouse.

Rock fishing safety advice

wear a life jacket
fish with friends
inform others of your plans
wear light clothing.
wear appropriate footwear such as cleats.
carry safety gear
never fish in exposed areas during rough or large seas
observe first, fish later
plan an escape route in case you are washed in
stay alert – never turn your back on the sea
ask for advice from locals who know the area
Further information and a copy of the 2013 rock fishing survey is available on Counci's website.

For more information and multi lingual rock fishing safety tips then please visit the NSW Safe Fishing web site www.safefishing.com.au.

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