More than 100 rock fishers have walked away better educated in how to stay safe after Surf Life Saving NSW’s popular rock fishing safety program, Gone Fishing, was successfully held at Avoca Beach yesterday, November 20.

Participants were met with a beautiful day on the Central Coast as a total of more than 300 people – rock fishers and families – learned all about vital safety measures and skill-building techniques specific to the popular but often deadly pastime from experts, including Maritime NSW, Marine Rescue and the Department of Primary Industries.

Rock fishers cycled through sessions including how to prepare for a day of fishing, how to pick a safe location, what safety gear to bring, how to assess the conditions and what to do if they get washed into the surf, among other crucial safety tools – tools which equip rock fishers to safely visit the coastline and then return home to their families.

In NSW from July 2021 to June 2022, 11 people lost their lives while rock fishing.

“It was a good day, nice day, the places I’ve been going lately have been not too safe and I’m turning around and going home because it’s not worth it, it’s not worth my life, so I thought I’d come here to learn a bit more,” Carson of Avoca said.

“You always think you know everything but there’s always something else to learn so it’s really important to brush up on your knowledge,” Ahmed Mahmood from Western Sydney added.

“No fish is worth your life, we want to always get back home to our family and kids.”

For Jst Jannatul Ferdaus – a resident of Mount Druitt but originally from Bangladesh – the course was important not only for her own understanding of the dangers of rock fishing, but for the safety of her young sons.

“My sons are very excited about fishing, any kind of fishing, they love it all,” she said.

“So, to know the safety is very important.

“I will recommend to people I know to come to this program.”

SLSNSW Community Education Manager, Julia Kiss said that the program utilises local fishers to the area so the information is current and tailored to regional conditions.

“We’ve had really great feedback that participants are learning things that they just weren’t aware of,” she said.

“They feel like they’re getting real knowledge from real rock fishers which really gets the message across.”

Member for Terrigal and Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch was there on Sunday to meet participants and thank Surf Life Saving, saying that it was fantastic that all the participants were taking home a free, properly fitted life jacket that will help save lives along the coast.

“We know that rock fishing is a very popular sport but at the same time, one of the most dangerous in the world,” he said.

“It’s great to see people of all ages here and at the end of it, they get a life jacket that will keep them safe.”

With the support of the NSW Government through the Department of Primary Industries, Surf Life Saving NSW will host a minimum of 10 coastal and 10 in-community workshops aimed specifically at multicultural and at-risk groups, including 1,000 free lifejackets and crucial lifejacket-fitting advice from experts.

Following Sunday’s visit to Avoca Beach, the program will move north to Coffs Harbour on Saturday 3 December, before visiting metropolitan Sydney and La Perouse early next year.

Monday 21 November 2022