A first in a targeted program to address rockfishing deaths, the NSW Government is partnering with Surf Life Saving NSW to rollout a complete package of safety workshops, multicultural resources and free lifejackets.
The Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders announced that the NSW Recreational Fishing Fund will invest $205,000 in a new rock fishing safety and skills program targeting at-risk communities, to be delivered by Surf Life Saving NSW, including giving out 1000 free fit-for-purpose lifejackets to participants.
“Life jackets are a no-brainer, they save lives,” Mr Saunders said.
“I am thrilled to work with Surf Life Saving NSW to ensure our rock fishers feel supported and protected when they engage in this activity.”
Indonesian-born rock fisher Rahadian (Hadi) Thahar is one of the program ambassadors who will help bring the program to life for his own, and other, multicultural communities.
“A lot of recent migrants, they don’t understand the dangers of the water in Australia,” said Hadi. “It’s not part of their culture. They come over here, they want to catch a big fish, but they don’t understand there’s risks involved.”
Hadi has had first-hand experience of the dangers of rock fishing after being washed into the ocean, luckily while wearing a lifejacket and his mate was able to help him out of the water.
“Lifejackets just give you that feeling of safety, that feeling of security, that goes a long way, especially if you’re not a strong swimmer. I can swim, but I’m not the strongest.
“I think people can take for granted what these life jackets can do for you, especially when you’re in that water and you’re panicking.
Hadi also thanked surf lifesavers for their role in responding to rock fishing incidents, saving many more people than the 10 who sadly perished in the last 12 months in NSW alone.
“They’re the ones that save our lives,” he said.
“Some of the things that we hear, the stories they tell, everyone is a volunteer. They don’t want to go out there and pull out bodies. It’s really important that we work with them as opposed to just relying on them to save our lives.”
Surf Life Saving NSW President, George Shales OAM, said the funding will help to save lives.
“We thank the NSW Government for supporting our efforts to reduce rock fishing tragedies. Our volunteers see first-hand the traumatic outcomes from these incidents and how simple things like wearing a lifejacket can prevent deaths,” Mr Shales said.
Friday 22 July 2022