Inquest in to rock fishing deaths

A joint inquest is to be held into the deaths of 13 rock fishermen in NSW over the past 12 months. Authorities are concerned about the high number of fishermen drowning while angling off the state’s coastline, with most of the tragedies said to be preventable.

Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott announced the joint inquest, which will examine ways of saving lives.

“This is a very important step towards stopping these preventable deaths,” NSW Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan said in a statement.

“Rock fishers make up a small but passionate sector of the fishing community and while it is an enjoyable pastime for many, unfortunately it is a sport that poses many dangers as we’ve seen over the last year.”

Between 2001 and 2008, 45 anglers were swept to their deaths in NSW.

In the 12 months to July 2009 nine fishermen drowned while angling from rocks or beach in NSW, according to a Surf Life Saving Australia report. That number rose to 13 in 2009-2010.

In the worst incident in recent history five people drowned during a fishing expedition to Flat Rock, at Catherine Hill Bay, on the Central Coast, in May.

Whan said $90,000 of public money was committed to rock fishing safety schemes earlier this year, including placing extra lifebuoys at popular fishing locations.

Rock fishers are being urged to review the safety guidelines outlined at and use common sense when fishing.

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