NSW to commence mandatory rock fishing life jacket trial

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Image: Scott Thomas

NSW Minister for Emergency Services David Elliott yesterday announced a 12-month trial of mandatory life jackets for rock fishers in Sydney’s Randwick area, as the Government prepares to introduce legislation designed to increase safety along the state’s coastline.

The Minister will this week introduce the Rock Fishing Safety Bill 2016 into Parliament, making it mandatory for people to wear life jackets when rock fishing in the Randwick LGA. The legislation enables other locations to be included after the 12-month trial. Randwick Local Government Area (LGA) has the highest rate of rock fishing drownings in NSW, with Little Bay and Cape Banks some of the most dangerous locations.

Enforcement officers from Randwick Council, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Primary Industries and the NSW Police Force will warn rock fishers not wearing a life jacket about the rules after December 1st this year.

There will be a 12-month grace period before the law is enforced with a $100 fine.

“Rock fishing is one of Australia’s deadliest pastimes, and of the 10 people who died in NSW in 2015-16 not one was wearing a life jacket,” Elliott said.

The NSW Government hasn’t recommended a particular lifejacket for rock fishing and essentially it will be left up to the fisher to choose from the list of approved lifejackets.

“Adults will be able to wear any life jacket that complies with Australian Standard AS 4758 level 50S or above. Children must wear a life jacket that complies with AS 4578 Level 100 or above,” said a spokesperson from the Department of Justice.

The law only covers those fishing and assisting fishing, not bystanders, swimmers and other non-fishers.

“The life jacket requirements will apply to people who are fishing with a rod and line or a handline, or to someone who is assisting someone who is fishing with a rod and line or handline. The person assisting might be using a net to help the person holding the rod to land a fish. People not participating in fishing would not be captured by the life jacket requirements,” said the spokesperson.

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