Lower North Coast Surf Live Saving president Brian Wilcox encourages MidCoast Council to consider rock fishing legislation

Safety awareness: Lower North Coast Surf Live Saving president Brian Wilcox at Forster Main Beach. Photo: Rob Douglas.
Safety awareness: Lower North Coast Surf Live Saving president Brian Wilcox at Forster Main Beach. Photo: Rob Douglas.

Lower North Coast Surf Live Saving branch president Brian Wilcox has encouraged MidCoast Council to consider adapting new legislation for rock fishers.

The Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016 requires people rock fishing in high risk locations to wear lifejackets.

A 12 month trial of mandatory lifejackets ran in the Randwick local government area and was endorsed by the NSW Government last week.

If introduced to the MidCoast area, the same rules will apply.

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As the Lower North Coast is commonplace for the sport, Mr Wilcox said the use of lifejackets needs to be enforced. 

“It’s such an important thing to help save people’s lives,” Mr Wilcox said. 

“Our major call outs after hours are often rock fishers.”

The announcement coincides with the more prevalent time for rock fishing incidents, that being March to June. 

“It’s particularly important for areas that we can’t get to as quickly, such as Charlotte Head and Boomerang Beach,” Mr Wilcox said.

“Having a flotation device gives us time to get to them.”

He added that a lot of people who rock fish on the lower north coast are not from the area.

“Many are from out of the area, just up for the weekend,” Mr Wilcox said.

“A lot of the locals know where the danger areas are.”

Mr Wilcox recalled an incident in 2014 where three rock fishermen were swept out to sea at Seal Rocks.

Be warned: Rockfishing is common on the lower north coast.

Be warned: Rockfishing is common on the lower north coast.

Goulburn fisherman Peter Oberg drowned in the incident. 

Between December 2017 and February 2018, six per cent of the drownings that occurred in Australia were from rock fishing. 

For total drownings during the same period of time, 10 per cent took place off rocks or cliffs.

An average of eight people die while rock fishing in NSW every year. 

The Beachsafe app can be used to check surf conditions before attempting to rock fish. 

Rock fishing is regarded as one of the most dangerous sports in Australia.

Patrol season end looms 

With the beach patrol season set to end on April 29, Mr Wilcox provided some advice for being safe in the surf during the cooler months.

“Swim at safer beaches such as Forster Main and Elizabeth Beach and do so in the company of family and friends,” Mr Wilcox said.

“That way we can locate you if you get into trouble.”

The season was extended by a week to cover the school holidays. 

Lifeguards will be on patrol at designated beaches Monday to Friday for the next two weeks while volunteers will be on the beach on the weekends.

During the non-patrol period, Mr Wilcox said people must call Triple Zero (000) and ask for police if assistance is required.

“We are always available so go through the police so they can notify us,” Mr Wilcox said.

Beach patrols will resume in September.