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Why Lifejackets are not mandatory for rock fishing in Eurobodalla

Following two Coronial Inquiries which recommended legislation making lifejackets mandatory for rock fishers, the NSW Government implemented the Rock Fishing Safety Act. The Act requires rock fishers in a declared location to wear appropriate lifejackets when rock fishing or helping others rock fish within the boundaries of each relevant local government area. Eurobodalla is NOT a declared location

In 2019 the NSW DPI worked with a number of other Councils assisting them to come onboard with public safety initiative.

NSW Police, with support from local Council Rangers, DPI Fisheries Officers and National Parks and Wildlife Service Rangers, are authorised to enforce the Act in declared locations and provide information on safe rock fishing. Fines for not wearing a lifejacket apply.

Above: Max Castle of the Tuross Head Fishing Club and ANSA with Angel rings ready for installation. 10 Angel Rings were installed in phase one with a further few dozen in phase two bringing the number to 30 over the next year. When announcing the Central Coast Council local government area had been officially declared a high risk area under the Rock Fishing Safety Act after it opted in to utilise the laws to improve safety the NSW Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock said that the Council had become eligible for a grant of up to $30,000 to support implementation, including rock fishing safety signage, education and awareness saying “Rock fishers make up a small but passionate part of the fishing community and, while an enjoyable pastime for many, it is one of the most dangerous sports in Australia.” At the time of the Central Coast announcement the Fishing Alliance Safety Officer, Malcolm Poole, said Australian Standards certified lifejackets were made for a variety of water sports, and not all were suitable for rock fishing. “In any case, it should be all about water safety awareness, ” he said. “People need to understand the risks and hazards. “Some rocks are safe to fish on and some aren’t. “There are a lot of complexities around rock fishing and there needs to be a big public awareness campaign, and the $30,000 Council is eligible for is not nearly adequate. “It seems like the State Government is trying to put the responsibility back on to councils. ” Poole said there needed to be more clarity on the suitability of life jackets and buoyancy vests from overseas. “People are buying them online, ” he said. Eurobodalla Council made the decision not to OPT-IN In February 2019 Eurobodalla Recreational Fishers and Boaters representatives and members met with Member for Bega, Andrew Constance to ask a series of pre-election questions that included questions around the Rock Fishing Safety Act asking: "What is your view on Eurobodalla opting out on rock fishing life jacket option?

"Do you support the current actions to delegate the responsibilities for implementation of this to a Council level?"

"What actions will you take in Bega Valley and Eurobodalla in this regard?"

"What actions can will you take to support education of rock fishing safety within the Eurobodalla? Greater awareness needs to be achieved about the Angel Ring program and rock fishing safety at a council level." The questions came at the time driven by a statement from Mark Latham, NSW One Nation Leader in regards to their Policy for the Promotion of Recreational Fishing in NSW

Statement where they advocated abolishing the Rock Fishing Safety Act, including compulsory life-jacket regulations for rockfishers in NSW saying "Fishers know their locations and safety requirements far better than politicians and public servants." Lifejacket Law

Anyone rock fishing in a declared location must wear an appropriate lifejacket. This includes people helping you to rock fish and children.

Failing to wear an appropriate lifejacket while rock fishing in a declared area may result in a $100 on the spot fine.

Declared Areas As a general rule, if you are fishing from rocks exposed to ocean swell in a declared area, then you will need to wear a lifejacket. It is safest to wear a lifejacket whenever and wherever you are rock fishing. Declared areas are:

Ballina Shire LGA Ballina Shire High Local Government Area map [PDF 4.5Mb]

Central Coast LGA Central Coast Local Government Area map [PDF 9.3Mb]

City of Lake Macquarie LGA City of Lake Macquarie Local Government Area map [PNG 1.85]

Northern Beaches LGA Northern Beaches Local Government Area map [PDF 1.2Mb]

Port Stephens LGA Port Stephens Local Government Area map [PDF 672KB]

Randwick City LGA Randwick Local Government Area map [PDF 1.40Mb]

Richmond Valley LGA Richmond Valley Local Government Area map [PDF 126KB]

Sutherland Shire LGA Sutherland Shire Local Government Area map [PDF 1.38]

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