Rock fishing

Staying safe when rock fishing

Rock fishing is a dangerous pastime. The Randwick City coastline is one of the MOST dangerous rock fishing areas in Australia. In recent years there have been 17 recorded rock fishing fatalities in the Randwick City area. None of the victims were wearing lifejacket.  

No matter what your skill level or experience we implore you to always wear a life jacket whilst rock fishing.

Free rock fishing workshops

Randwick City Council and the NSW Government are hosting three free rock fishing workshops in October and November 2017. They are hosted by professional rock fishing guide Alex Bellissimo and designed for beginner to intermediate rock fishers. Register to attend

These workshops are a joint initiative of the NSW Government and Randwick City Council with support from the Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW and NSW Fisheries and funded under the NSW Water Safety Fund.

Lifejacket law

It's now law to wear a lifejacket when rock fishing in the Randwick City Local Government Area. This includes locations such as La Perouse, Little Bay, Malabar, Maroubra, Coogee and Clovelly.

The Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016 (NSW) came into effect on 1 December 2016.

Due to the number of fatalities, the Randwick City local government area (LGA) has been chosen as the first location to implement this new law with a one-year trial of mandatory lifejackets from 1 December 2016 until 30 November 2017.

During this one-year trial, you MUST wear an appropriate lifejacket whenever you rock fish anywhere in the Randwick LGA. Anyone who is helping you rock fish in the Randwick LGA, as well as children in your care, MUST also wear an appropriate lifejacket.

For more information about the new legislation visit the NSW Government Water Safety website.

Rock fishing resources

Rock fishing survey

In 2013, Randwick City Council conducted an extensive on-the-ground survey of rock fishers to better understand their attitudes and behaviours to help reduce rock fishing fatalities.

Safety tips

The follow basic rock fishing safety tips should be followed at all times:

Wear a life jacket. Wearing a life jacket can significantly increase your chance of survival if you are washed into the water.

Never fish by yourself. Fish in a group of a least three people and within sight of each other. If someone is washed in, one person can stay and help while the other alerts emergency services (dial 000). Mobile phone users can also dial 112 to access emergency services.

Inform others of your plans. Always let friends or family know where you are going and when you'II be back.

Wear light clothing. Light clothing such as shorts and a spray jacket will let you swim easily If you are washed in. Jumpers may be heavy and difficult to take off.

Wear appropriate footwear. Cleats, sandals and sandshoes with non slip soles suit different surfaces. Use the appropriate shoes for the conditions.

Carry safety gear. Wear a life jacket or buoyancy vest. Also bring something buoyant that can be easily thrown and held onto, to help you stay afloat. Carry ropes, a float and torches.

Fish only in places you know are safe and never fish in exposed areas during rough or large seas. Make sure you are aware of local weather, swell and tidal conditions before going fishing. Listen to weather forecasts or call the weather information line on 1900 937 107. Be aware that conditions may change dramatically in a short period of time.

Observe first, fish later. Spend some time (at least 30 minutes) watching your intended spot before fishing to get an idea of the conditions over a full swell/wave cycle. Wave conditions can get worse as the tide changes - you should know whether the tides are high or low and coming in or going out.

Plan an escape route in case you are washed in. Stay calm - if you are washed in, swim away from the rocks and look for a safe place to come ashore or stay afloat and wait for help to arrive.

Stay alert. Don't ever turn your back on the sea - if the waves, weather or swell threaten your fishing spot then leave immediately.

Ask for advice from locals who know the area. They will always tell you when an area is dangerous.

Do not jump in if someone is washed into the water. Use your rope or something that floats to rescue the person. If there's an Angel Ring nearby know how to use it. Dial 000 on your mobile phone to get help.

Greg Finney's Story

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