The latest report from ANSA NSW reveals that despite well publicised warnings of the dangers of rock fishing many anglers are ignoring the risks and losing their lives from the ocean rocks. A recent string of drownings in the state highlights just how easy it is to become in danger while rock fishing. A slip, momentarily lapse of concentration or even a larger set of waves can catch even the most experienced anglers off guard.
In the first few months of 2009, ANSA NSW reports there were four confirmed rescues aided by the use of angel rings – life buoys installed on popular rock fishing locations along the coast. There was also a rescue performed using a bucket and an angler was pulled out of the water with a lifejacket.
The report also outlines the loss of at platforms at Sawtell, Port Kembla, North Bondi and Little Bay, as well as from the cliffs and rocks at North Bondi and Otford in the Royal National Park.
The first rescue occurred at Avoca when an angler was washed off the rocks and rescued with an angel ring. Another rescue occurred at Port Kembla when two anglers washed in were saved by a Police officer armed with an angel ring. A five-year-old girl was also rescued with a ring at Red Rock, north of Coffs Harbour as was an angler in May at Fraser Park on the NSW Central Coast.
The rescue of a rock angler with a bucket just south of Forster and an angler wearing a lifejacket off Avoca reinforces the message that if those in difficulty can swim away from the rocks and stay afloat they are often rescued.
Tony Wood, Chief Pilot with the Greater Sydney Region Westpac Rescue Helicopter, was overjoyed to pluck an angler wearing a lifejacket from the water off Avoca after having retrieved a body of an angler only days before at Little Bay. Tony has always advocated the wearing of lifejackets by anglers who fish the rocks.
The total number of confirmed rescues with angel rings has now reached 30 and coupled with the work ANSA is doing with Surf Life Saving NSW, Safewaters, Marine Area Command and the Recreational Fishing
Alliance of NSW it is hopeful that more anglers heed the message that those fishing the rocks should always wear a life jacket.
ANSA NSW is also currently working closely with Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) and Surf Life Saving New South Wales (SLSNSW), Australian National Sportfishing Association (ANSA National), the Australian Recreational and Sportfishing Industry Confederation (RecFish Australia), the Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW (RFANSW) and the Westpac Life Saver Helicopter (Greater Sydney Region) on a national rock fishing safety working group.
With 86 angel rings installed to date along the NSW coast another 30 awaiting installation (22 already approved) the rest of 2009 looks to be a busy and hopefully fatality free fishing year for ANSA NSW. If you’d like to help them with the angel ring program or would like more info on how to join ANSA NSW online and the Angel Ring Team, visit the following: http://www.angelrings.com.au/JoinIntro.html
ANSA Angel Ring Coordinator Stan Konstantaras told Fishing World his organisation hopes to raise awareness of the important work performed by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service in saving many rock anglers’ lives. Readers can help raise the sposnorship funding needed to keep this valuable service operational by making donations at: www.helicopterrescue.com.au