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Surf Life Saving issues rock fishing safety plea

Surf Life Saving (SLS), together with recreational fishing groups the Australian National Sportfishing Association (ANSA) and the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), is appealing to families of rock fishers to ensure their loved ones avoid fishing in dangerous locations and conditions, and are always wearing the correct safety equipment.

The appeal follows yesterday’s tragic double drowning in Sydney Harbour, where two Chinese anglers lost their lives while rock fishing.

These deaths continued a worrying trend from the 2009-10 season which saw anglers from an Asian background represent 84% of all rock fishing related drowning deaths.

“The peak period for rock fishing incidents begins now and we are urging families, particularly in high-risk Asian communities, to actively look after their loved ones,” said Surf Life Saving Australia’s Public Education Coordinator, Anthony Bradstreet.

“Ensure that they have the proper equipment including non-slip shoes and a lifejacket, and always check the weather and ocean conditions before leaving home. If in doubt the message is simple: don’t put your life on the line and avoid rock fishing all together.”

Surf Life Saving has been working with fishing groups to deliver a multilingual education campaign in the ethnic media, while rock fishing safety workshops for high-risk groups and a program to mentor bilingual educators have commenced.

Over the weekend Surf Life Saving had a dangerous surf warning in place, which was distributed through mainstream and ethnic media.

“These programs are targeted at high-risk communities and rely on a very limited budget. Surf Life Saving is currently working to expand these initiatives.

“Ultimately, we need people to take some responsibility in their own household before they go fishing. We are asking for the families of anglers to start talking about safety in the home,” said Bradstreet.

For more rock fishing safety information, please go to www.beachsafe.org.au.