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Two rockfishers have died just weeks after the tragic loss of three people at Hill 60, Port Kembla, despite a joint agency rescue effort last night.

Just before 7pm, the Surf Emergency Response System was activated, with reports that up to four people had been swept off rocks at Port Kembla.

Branch Duty Officers responded and the callout team from Port Kembla SLSC raced to launch the Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB). Once on scene, the crew retrieved one unconscious man, another who was conscious and a police officer who had entered the water to try to rescue them.

They were brought to shore at Port Kembla Beach where CPR was conducted on the unconscious man.

At the same time, another patient was recovered from the water by the Ambulance Helicopter and moved to the rock platform where CPR was conducted and continued while the patient was transported to hospital by road Ambulance.

Sadly both men were pronounced deceased late last night, despite the best efforts of the combined team which responded.

A third fisherman and a Police Officer were transported to hospital with minor cuts, abrasions and mild hypothermia.

Anthony Turner, the Illawarra Branch Duty Officer who attended and was actively involved in the resuscitation of one man said the incident was extremely challenging for the lifesavers involved.

“It was a confronting scene, dealing with multiple patients in the water, close to rocks in challenging circumstances for our lifesavers and emergency services crews,” said Anthony Turner.

He praised the professional conduct of the lifesavers from Port Kembla SLSC who responded to the callout incident in an IRB, rescuing multiple people from the water. This is the third major rescue/incident in recent weeks in this location by lifesavers and emergency services crews.

“This evening’s incident highlights the importance of monitoring weather and swell conditions and always wearing a life jacket while rock fishing. Time is a critical element when you’re struggling in the water, with heavy clothes on and if you are not wearing a floatation device such as a life jacket.”

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steve Pearce expressed his sincere sympathies to the families of the deceased men and said he was extremely proud of the efforts of rescuers.

“Both our volunteer surf lifesavers and the emergency services professionals from Police and Ambulance did an incredible job in challenging conditions.”

Low light, poor visibility and rain squalls in the area made the rescue effort extremely hazardous.

“I’m so proud of everyone who came to the aid of these poor men. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victims. This is an unspeakable tragedy so soon after three men died at the same location only weeks ago,” said Steve Pearce.

  • There have been 10 rockfishing/rock related drownings since July 2020 in NSW. This is already two fatalities more than the 10 year average of eight drownings per year.

  • There have been seven rockfishing drownings since 1 January with five occurring at Port Kembla.

  • Last night’s tragedy takes the NSW coastal drowning toll to 30 since 1 July 2020.

Rockfishing Safety Tips

  • Check the weather, surf conditions and tides before going fishing

  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back

  • Always wear a lifejacket

  • Wear appropriate non-slip footwear and light clothing

  • Always fish with a friend

  • Check the warnings signs for information about the area

  • Never turn your back to the water

  • Do not try and retrieve anything that has fallen into the water

  • Do not jump in if someone falls into the water - wait for assistance or throw an ‘Angel Ring’ or Lifebuoy if there is one nearby

  • Additionally, boaters are urged to always check conditions prior and to log on with their local Marine Rescue Base via radio or using the Marine Rescue App. Visit for more information

  • Call Triple Zero – Police to report an in-water emergency

For information about patrol times, weather, and beach access restrictions visit the Website or Download the App


Saturday 13 February 2021