Did you know that an average of eight people die each year in NSW from rock fishing-related accidents? Despite the dangers that come with it, rock fishers continue to flock to Sydney’s beaches, including Maroubra beach for this ‘pastime.’
A research by Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) in partnership with the University of Melbourne revealed that over 1.2 million people in Australia – around 8 per cent of the population – go rock fishing each year.
The NSW Government declared rock fishing as one of the most dangerous sports in Australia, highlighting that it’s the second most common cause of drowning, next to swimming. The sport has led to 192 deaths between 2004 and 2019.
With rock fishing becoming increasingly popular, authorities continue to remind rock fishers to follow these safety tips:
Stay alert to weather forecasts and warnings
According to SLSA, previous safety measures were based on the belief that rock-fishing deaths were usually caused by unpredictable, ‘freak’ waves. The research team disproved this belief after discovering that danger arises instead from inexperienced rock fishers’ failure to recognise hazardous ocean conditions.
Check severe weather warnings or coastal waters forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology before leaving home.
Choose the safest location
Ask local people and experienced anglers (rod and line fishers) about the safest areas to fish.
In Maroubra, there’s a popular spot for rock fishing, also known as “The Stake.” If you’re not that familiar with the area, simply avoid it when you can. There have been a total of three deaths in the said spot, according to Council’s signage.
Wear the right clothing
The Marine Area Command of NSW Police Force recommends wearing an approved lifejacket and appropriate non-slip footwear and light clothing.
For adults, lifejackets must meet Australian Standard AS 4758 level 50S or greater. In NSW, there’s a wide range of approved lifejackets to suit different activities and conditions. To see which one is right for you, check out this list of approved types of lifejackets.
Lastly, never fish alone. Inform others of your plans or have an escape route in case you’re washed in. For more information about rock fishing lifejacket law and declared areas, visit NSW Government’s website.