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Seven rock fishermen were airlifted to safety at Kingscliff in Northern NSW after conditions deteriorated on Sunday morning. 

The popular fishing spot known as The Causeway became a dangerous and decreasing island for the group, who didn’t have lifejackets or suitable rock fishing gear, as the tide rose and the swell increased. 

Far North Coast Duty Officer Chris Samuels was called onto the scene after being notified of the increased risk to the group. 

“The Causeway is a notorious area for fishermen. We’ve had a number of rescues over the last couple of years, including drownings.” 

At around 10.30am the duty operations jet ski, as well as the Australian Lifeguard Service and Cudgen Headland IRB had been tasked to assist. The increasingly treacherous four-foot swell made the extraction too challenging for a rescue from the water.

“We looked at a number of options utilising all our resources before calling in the Surf Life Saving Queensland helicopter,” said Samuels. “It was a great example of multi-agency cooperation for a positive outcome.”

All seven were winched by the helicopter safely and cleared by the paramedics before being released without injury. 

“The group, who had been on The Causeway since the early morning, weren’t prepared for the conditions to change throughout the morning,” said Samuels. “It’s essential that anyone heading out to fish wears a lifejacket, researches the location and checks the conditions online.”

Rock fishing continues to be in the top two activities that are the leading cause of coastal drowning deaths, with seven deaths occurring in NSW alone last year. In almost all of these incidents, the fishers were not wearing a flotation device, and the victims were overwhelmingly male.

SLSNSW CEO Steven Pearce said, “As first responders, lifesavers see the devastating impact on families and communities when rock fishing accidents occur.

“In so many of these incidents, a tragedy could well have been averted if the rock fisher had been wearing a simple flotation device.”

For more information on rock fishing and current life jacket laws in NSW visit


Monday 26 November 2018