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Nsw Rockfishing Pfds Legislation


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Taken from FW email newsletter 7 -2-16


ROCK fishers in NSW will be forced to wear lifejackets under legislation announced today.

NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliot said the new laws would be introduced soon, according to a report on the ABC.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-07/nsw-government-to-force-rock-fishers-to-wear-lifejackets/7146854

"What we are saying to the people of NSW today is that if you enjoy rock-fishing, that's fantastic, but we want you to get home. You have to wear a life-jacket if you are in a high-risk area," said the Minister.

"Unfortunately, it has taken 37 deaths for this legislation to come through."

Elliot said the penalties for not wearing a life jacket in these areas would be similar to those for on-water activities.

"This is legislation that has been forced on the Government because people have not heeded the public safety campaigns in the past," Mr Elliot said.

The ABC reports there will be a 12-month grace period after the laws are introduced.

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NSW Rockfishing PFD  update


Taken from FW email newsletter  9-2-2016


NSW Minister for Emergency Services David Elliott has responded to concerns after last weekend's announcement to mandate lifejackets for rock fishers in high risk areas.

The announcement sparked a heated debate on social media over the weekend with many fearing it raised more questions than it answered.

The Minister told Fishing World that wearing a lifejacket while rock fishing is safer than not wearing one.

“Nearly all persons who have died while rock-fishing were not wearing lifejackets. A lifejacket will help a person stay buoyant and get out of the water, or to stay buoyant until they can be rescued – this is particularly important in relation to persons who cannot swim, or who are not strong swimmers,” Elliott said.

“As Surf Life Saving Australia reported in their ‘National Coastal Safety Report 2014’, the majority of coastal drowning deaths in NSW in 2013-14 occurred when a person was rock fishing. They also found that based on consideration of participation and fatality data, rock fishing is 3.1 times riskier than swimming,” he said.

Rock fishers have raised concerns about the ability to swim and dive under waves while wearing a lifejacket, but the minister has also dismissed these concerns.

“A number of lifejackets do not necessarily prevent diving under waves. A strong swimmer may want to choose a lifejacket (for example, a level 50S) that still permits them freedom of movement to dive under waves,” he said

“There are a number of Australian Standard lifejackets that are suitable for rock fishing. Anglers should find one that is comfortable and meets the standard. We expect that the industry will also move toward developing rock fishing specific lifejackets now that the Government is making lifejackets compulsory at high-risk locations.”

Fisho's environmental editor and experienced rock fisho, John Newbery, said the announcement was inevitable and has been coming for some time, but wasn't sure whether the decision was entirely the correct move.

“Yes it will probably save lives in the long run but I think more people will get washed in. I think lifejackets give people false confidence and that will probably see more people ending up in the water,” Newbery said.

Newbery has held advisory positions on various rock fishing safety panels over the years and believes there were others factors worth exploring.

“If you choose to legislate, then the first thing I would legislate for is the correct footwear, and you should also consider a person's swimming ability. Also, perhaps most important, is for the fisherman to have alternative spots to fish when a certain ledge is too dangerous, to never fish alone and to always carry a mobile phone,” he said.

These concerns, which many fishermen echo, appear to have fallen on deaf ears as the legislation is due to be introduced into NSW parliament later this year after a working group determines the final makeup of the law.

The members of the working group include Surf Life Saving Australia, Police, Department of Primary Industries and the Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW. They will consider a range of factors including fatalities and near drownings, usage and accessibility in determining the high risk locations.

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Taken from FW email newsletter 29-2-16


NSW Shooters and Fishers Party MLC Robert Brown called out the Government on their ill-thought plans to legislate requirements for rock fishers to wear unsafe personal flotation devices (PFDs).

“The rock fishers of New South Wales will not be taken for fools on my watch,” Mr Brown said.

“The current Australian Standard for life jackets – AS4758 – doesn’t adequately cater for the unique environment of turbulent waters that rock fishers face.

“Levels 275, 150 and 100 PFDs in the Standard are designed for offshore use and will keep the wearer face up in the water – but hinders their attempts to swim away from dangerous rocks in the wash zone.

“Whilst level 50 and 50S PFDs do cover those on the shore line, they specifically require the wearer to be an ‘able swimmer’ and ‘have help and a means of rescue close at hand’

“Unfortunately, neither situation caters for rock fishers.  Anybody caught in the wash zone will be in great difficulty.

“This is just another example of a back-of-the-envelope announcement by the Minister with no thought or understanding for the issues on the ground, and flies in the face of advice offered by the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

“The Minister for Emergency Services, David Elliott, needs to come clean on whether the NSW Government will accept liability for anybody killed or injured while being forced to wear this inadequate equipment.”

“We’re all for proper safety devices for rock fishers, but they need to be custom-built for that specific purpose.”

Mr Brown added that Angel Rings installed by fishing peak bodies in some rock fishing areas were a prime example of a device that is catered specifically to rock fishers.

“The current Angel Ring project by the Australian National Sportfishing Association actually takes the needs of rock fishers into account,” he said.

“They are installed across select locations throughout NSW, and have saved over 70 rock fishers to date, including on man fishing on the Wybung headland last weekend.”

“There’s still more to do on improving the safety of anglers on the rocks – especially in educating fishers from non-English speaking backgrounds.”

More information about the Angel Rings project is available at http://angelrings.com.au/

Robert Brown questioned the Government on this issue in the Upper House yesterday.  An answer is not expected for several weeks.

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10 hours ago, Gad said:

The Minister told Fishing World that wearing a lifejacket while rock fishing is safer than not wearing one.

“Nearly all persons who have died while rock-fishing were not wearing lifejackets.


Over 1500 people killed in car accidents last year, almost all of them were not wearing a PFD, therefore we should mandate they wear PFD's when driving......


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1 hour ago, Binder said:

Over 1500 people killed in car accidents last year, almost all of them were not wearing a PFD, therefore we should mandate they wear PFD's when driving......


Even more people would be dying on the roads if the government hadn't made seat belts compulsory, and that legislation was hotly disputed at the time too. Not sure about the PDFs for rock fishing. Unfortunately you can't legislate common sense and some people will find a way to die needlessly no matter how many laws we have. The Darwin theory rocks, but the stupid gene is persistent.

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4 hours ago, samsteele115 said:

hmmmmmmmmmm. I would wear one but I can understand the frustration for the select few who are strong swimmers and are able to deal with the sitiuation without a life jacket. For instance the land based game fishers who actually jump in to land fish; cant see them wearing a lifejacket and being any safer in one.

I won't weigh in on whether or not I agree as I have done no research...

But people who have issues because they believe themselves strong swimmers are deluded.

You can  be an Olympic class long distance swimmer and it will not mean squat when you fall off a ledge fully clothed into a washing machine of water, probably banging your way down rocks on the way only to be further smashed back onto the rocks later. The point of a life jacket is more likely to keep severely injured, unconscious anglers afloat. 

Actually I will weigh in... I would not personally want to wear one... But wearing life jackets on the rocks probably makes more sense then wearing them anywhere else (casually cruising across Moreton Bay for example)!

It is different looking at this from a QLD perspective as well with limited (comparatively) access to headlands and ledges. NSW and VIC have thousands more and thus thousands more anglers perched on them. 




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Totally agree with you Angus, about the purpose of the jacket. In that situation staying afloat will be more important than trying to swim under waves. Anyone who has surfed around headlands and lost their board on entry from the rocks knows how hard it is to battle the wave action with no board.  Better to get cuts and bruises than drown.

Hopefully someone will design one that is specific to rock fishing. An auto inflate would be great from a comfort and convenience perspective but may not fare well against oyster encrusted rocks,. Block style would be too bulky.  So right there is a design challenge for someone if there is no such product now.  The bigger challenge will be getting people to wear any sort of jacket (Darwins theory again), but hey, even if it only saves one life per year it is worth doing.

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By the way I am all for the idea and I think it will save lives. I personally wear a manual inflatable when fishing point lookout because I know it would definitely help save my life if I fell in. I know I would drown being fully clothed because I can't swim very well without clothing as it is... But I know a lot of anglers hate the idea and I can understand where they are coming from. Just like everything in politics and law, not everyone can be pleased.

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I don't really see the issue with it. some PFD's are so small now that you would barley realise your wearing one. If one of your loved ones was doing something dangerous would you not want them to be as safe as possible? and surely people cant be whinging about the cost of a pfd...if you can afford do be a lbgf fanatic then you can afford a one off pfd purchase.

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I commented on an article posted by Fishing World which may be worth repeating here also...

I'll wade in (pun intended) on this. I see a lot of people commenting on something they don't have experience with (don't think I'm knocking the discussion though, discussing it is important). I'm one of the lucky few that has been washed in whilst rock fishing and survived. It very nearly claimed my life. I was (and still am) an experienced rock fisherman, I did everything right on the day yet a rogue wave got me. Based on that experience, I feel that a highly buoyant PFD would have made things VERY difficult for me and probably would have resulted in my death...but at least my body would have floated wink emoticon A neutrally buoyant PFD _may_ have made things easier for me as long as I could still swim and retain full movement of my arms. The single most important factor for me though on the day was what I was wearing. Within each breath, I was able to strip off my heavy, water-laden gear leaving me in just shoes, t-shirt and shorts. I was sliced to ribbons on the rocks but I wasn't sitting on the bottom of the ocean. For anyone going rock fishing, wear gear that you can strip off quickly if need be. Zips or clips on jackets, loose pants that strip off relatively easily. Clips not buckles on gear like bait belts, etc. If you end up in the water, you will be _immediately_ exhausted despite the adrenalin. Every trip, assume you're going to end up in the water and have a plan. Tight lines!

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