Barnett promises safety improvements for rock fishers

THE WA Liberal Government says if re-elected it would provide $300,000 over three years to provide enhanced safety measures for rock fishers at popular locations along the state’s coast.

Premier Colin Barnett said, while rock fishing remained popular, there had been a number of tragic incidents which illustrated that more should be done to protect fishers.

Potential safety measures already identified include the physical installation of bolts that can be used as anchor points and the provision of better emergency response systems and public rescue equipment at popular rock fishing spots.

Mr Barnett made the announcement from Salmon Holes near Albany, where rock fishing bolts will be installed as a priority.

“Since 2007, there have been 13 rock fishing-related deaths recorded in Western Australia and it is clear more can be done to protect fishers,” Mr Barnett said.

“The Government will engage with Recfishwest, the Surf Live Saving Association of WA, local government and communities to identify specific areas of concern, discuss the most effective action that can be taken, and how this is best done.”

Potential safety measures that have already been identified for proper investigation with Recfishwest, the Surf Live Saving Association of WA, local government and communities include:

Anchor Points: these bolts can be physically secured to rocks at popular fishing spots which will allow people to use harnesses or ropes to tether themselves. These have been introduced on a trial basis at spots in the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park
Silent Sentries: Silent Sentries are floatation devices which can be deployed if someone is washed from rocks – they can also be designed to send an emergency signal to authorities when they are deployed

Public Rescue Equipment: personal flotation devices – special life jackets – which accord with nationally-recognised safety standards could be made available for free hire at locations identified along the coast.

Emergency Response Procedures: the provision of satellite phones – along with the alert function served by Silent Sentries – could also help to better co-ordinate rescue operations.

The Premier said raising the public’s awareness of potential dangers and on-site information for fishers would also be a key part of this work.

“It is estimated that more than 600,000 West Australians take part in recreational fishing each year but many are unaware of the potential dangers posed by some forms of fishing,” he said.

“Better signage at popular rock fishing spots and more information material – such as leaflets and brochures – will help people to understand and take heed of potential dangers.”

Mr Barnett said a number of priority areas had been identified, in consultation with Recfishwest, for the new safety measures, including Twilight Cove and Hellfire Bay at Esperance; Salmon Holes and Lowlands at Albany; and Kingie Rock and Long Pont in the Denmark-Walpole region. The first works are expected to be installed by Easter 2013.

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