Shooters and Fishers call out NSW government on rockfishing lifejackets

Image: Scott Thomas

NSW Shooters and Fishers Party MLC Robert Brown called out the Government on their ill-thought plans to legislate requirements for rock fishers to wear unsafe personal flotation devices (PFDs).

“The rock fishers of New South Wales will not be taken for fools on my watch,” Mr Brown said.

“The current Australian Standard for life jackets – AS4758 – doesn’t adequately cater for the unique environment of turbulent waters that rock fishers face.

“Levels 275, 150 and 100 PFDs in the Standard are designed for offshore use and will keep the wearer face up in the water – but hinders their attempts to swim away from dangerous rocks in the wash zone.

“Whilst level 50 and 50S PFDs do cover those on the shore line, they specifically require the wearer to be an ‘able swimmer’ and ‘have help and a means of rescue close at hand’

“Unfortunately, neither situation caters for rock fishers.  Anybody caught in the wash zone will be in great difficulty.

“This is just another example of a back-of-the-envelope announcement by the Minister with no thought or understanding for the issues on the ground, and flies in the face of advice offered by the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

“The Minister for Emergency Services, David Elliott, needs to come clean on whether the NSW Government will accept liability for anybody killed or injured while being forced to wear this inadequate equipment.”

“We’re all for proper safety devices for rock fishers, but they need to be custom-built for that specific purpose.”

Mr Brown added that Angel Rings installed by fishing peak bodies in some rock fishing areas were a prime example of a device that is catered specifically to rock fishers.

“The current Angel Ring project by the Australian National Sportfishing Association actually takes the needs of rock fishers into account,” he said.

“They are installed across select locations throughout NSW, and have saved over 70 rock fishers to date, including on man fishing on the Wybung headland last weekend.”

“There’s still more to do on improving the safety of anglers on the rocks – especially in educating fishers from non-English speaking backgrounds.”

More information about the Angel Rings project is available at

Robert Brown questioned the Government on this issue in the Upper House yesterday.  An answer is not expected for several weeks.

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