Dangerous seas prompt RFA warning

ONE rockfishing angler's close call on Coffs Harbour's South Wall and the likelihood of heavy seas again battering the Coffs Coast have prompted warnings for anglers to leave the rods in the rack this weekend.

After Coffs Harbour fisher Peter Burke told his story last Saturday about how a large wave washed him into the harbour, the Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW (RFA) took notice.

It turns out alliance chairman Malcolm Poole just happened to be travelling the North Coast inspecting notorious rockfishing platforms and newly installed angel rings when he heard of the incident.

Mr Poole visited the sometimes notorious location the day after Mr Burke was rescued by a fellow angler on the South Wall.

“The story from Peter is great stuff; one of the issues RFA is pushing is trying to chat with as many rescued anglers or tourists that we can in an attempt to see how we can improve our existing coastal rock platform safety strategies,” Mr Poole said.

“Even when I was there Thursday the warning signs were everywhere, a wet walkway, big sets and seas breaking badly.

“I even suggested to one angler who was wanting to try his luck to head around to the point where it would be a little safer and the fish were biting, another angler was having some success, and it was safer for everyone.”

The RFA has been closely following the coronial inquiry into the 12 rock fishing fatalities during 2009/10.

Coroner Buscombe is due to hand down a series of life-saving recommendations which could range from increased education and awareness, interacting SMS and roadside warnings, mandatory life jackets, new enforcement powers or move-on directions to possibly the extreme – banning fishing in certain conditions.

“Let's hope that the suggestions and submissions provided to the Coroner will prevail without the need for any radical upsets to avid rockfishing anglers,” Mr Poole said.

The RFA has been a major partner in the State Government's rollout of angel rings across NSW, including ocean safety devices installed at Red Rock after ocean drownings in recent years.

More information on the rockfishing revolution is at www.safe fishing.com.au or www.angelrings.com.au.

Partners in the campaign to reduce fishing-related fatalities include the Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW, Australian National Sportfishing Association NSW Branch, Surf Life Saving Australia and NSW, NSW Fisheries, Marine Rescue NSW and Sport and Recreation.