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 lifejacket.

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 in the Torndirrup National Park near Albany, commencing on January 1, 2019 to evaluate if the wearing of lifejackets is effective in reducing rock fishing fatalities.

The trial makes it compulsory for anyone visiting the rock fishing area at Salmon Holes, even if they are not fishing, to wear a Type 1 lifejacket. The trial will cover three salmon seasons and is expected to run until June 30, 2021.

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.

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).

Fact file:

Since 2002, there have been 40 fatalities recorded in WA directly related to rock fishing (an average of 2 per year), many of which occurred during the peak salmon season in April. 13 of these fatalities have occurred at Salmon Holes, in Torndirrup National Park near Albany (Royal Life Saving WA, February 14, 2019).

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).

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 view the Premier's announcement click here.