Surf Life Saving NSW’s ground-breaking rock fishing safety program moves to Avoca Beach this month – the first for the region in a program that will see rock fishers across the state learn about vital safety measures and skill-building and receive a free lifejacket.

Following the success of the ‘Gone Fishing’ program’s launch at Port Kembla in September – a deadly blackspot for rock fishers where six people have lost their lives in the past two years – Avoca Beach SLSC will be the site of the second workshop on Sunday 20 November.

Following this, the program will move north to Coffs Harbour on Saturday 3 December, before visiting metropolitan Sydney and La Perouse early next year.

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

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 giving out 1,000 free lifejackets and offering crucial lifejacket-fitting advice from experts.

Minister for Agriculture, Dugald Saunders announced in July that the NSW Recreational Fishing Fund would invest $205,000 toward the delivery of these workshops.

“Our focus for this day is to provide rock fishing safety education to at-risk communities,” SLSNSW Community Education Manager, Julia Kiss said.

“Workshop sessions are held in the morning and include the reviewing and wearing of correct lifejackets, safe and unsafe clothes and footwear, what to wear in different conditions, what to pack and not to pack when rock fishing and expert fishing tips.

“After lunch participants do location specific sessions to highlight the hazards, risks, conditions, and unsafe fishing locations in the Avoca area. They will learn about tides, swell, signage, and different types of emergencies, how to handle them and how emergency services can respond.

“In these sessions, experts including experienced lifeguards, lifesavers, and local rock fishers will deliver vital information on what you can do to keep yourself safe while rock fishing.”

SLSNSW CEO, Steve Pearce said the day aims to equip rock fishers with the tools to safely visit the coastline and then return home to their families.

“Many people think Surf Life Saving is about volunteers on the beach and swimming between the red and yellow flags, but our educational reach extends so much further,” he said.

“We’re excited to continue delivering these workshops, which we hope will have a positive impact on at-risk communities and our coastal drowning toll.”

“The day really highlights the significance and importance of improved drowning prevention and rock fishing education strategies within target communities,” Julia added.

Interested rock fishers are encouraged to register for the workshop by visiting  https://tinyurl.com/GoneFishing-Avoca or emailing community@surflifesaving.com.au

Wednesday 9 November 2022