Drowning in Little Bay Prompts Call to Observe Increased Rock Fishing Safety Measures

Little Bay Rock Fishing
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Surf Life Saving Australia is calling on the public to observe increased safety measures for rock fishing following the tragic drowning of a father and his son in Little Bay near Maroubra.

Shane Daw, the general manager for coastal safety of Surf Life Australia has been advocating for those engaging in rock fishing to wear lifejackets and he believes that this should be mandated nationwide. The safety expert also wants more education on the importance of a lifejacket, including in areas where it has become compulsory.

A 40-year-old father and his nine-year-old son were believed to have been swept by the tide as they were rock fishing in Little Bay on Monday, 31 Jan. The pair were not wearing lifejackets when paramedics took them out of the water. According to reports, the dad and son were in critical condition and could not be saved. 

According to Mr Daw, every council in Australia should have laws about mandatory lifejackets, as well as continued enforcement and education about its use. He said that even in councils where it has been required, many fishers are still not aware of the law, especially among recreational fishers. He believes that this safety guideline should also be taught in schools and community groups as the death toll has been climbing.

Data from Surf Life Saving Australia showed that 80 per cent of all rock fishing fatalities were not wearing a lifejacket.

Little Bay, under Randwick City Council, is considered one of the most dangerous places for rock fishing. In 2018, the Council mandated lifejacket use for rock fishers. 

However, according to NSW Police, only two violations have been logged in Little Bay since its enforcement. The recent accident is the fourth rock fishing-related death in the area since 2017 and the 21st since 2001. 

A review of the lifejacket policies, education, and implementation will be conducted by Randwick Mayor Dylan Parker.  Meanwhile, the victims’ family and friends have launched a GoFundMe page for the mother, who painfully watched her husband and son drown in the water.