Angel rings and life jackets

ROCK fishing anglers can expect to see greater safety education and awareness and perhaps locally more angels rings placed in notorious fishing spots like Coffs Harbour's South Wall.

The deputy coroner has handed down a series of recommendations to the State Government, Surf Life Saving NSW and recreational fishing groups following the inquest into 11 rock fishing drownings in NSW last year.

The findings of coroner Mark Buscombe call for a holistic approach to the issue and a determination of what is being done publicly by agencies and government in the wake of rock fishing tragedies, including an incident at Catherine Hill Bay, south of Newcastle, which claimed five lives last year.

Coroner Buscombe recommended that a statewide fishing safety program is developed, more signage is erected on dangerous rock platforms and that the O'Farrell Government consider making life jackets compulsory.

Surf Life Saving NSW lifesaving manager Dean Storey said the organisation would examine the findings and work with other stakeholders to reduce the incidence of rock fishing drownings.

“We've been doing what we can in our capacity as the state's primary water safety and rescue organisation, but a statewide approach, which results in a complete strategy, is long overdue,” Mr Storey said.

Statistics consistently highlight rock fishing as the second highest cause of coastal drownings in NSW.

Mr Storey said SLSNSW had focused on education among non-English speaking communities. Recreational Fishing Alliance chairman Malcolm Poole said the preparation of a Coastal Rock Safety Plan (Rock Fishing Safety Plan) was paramount.

“Obviously developing the plan with key stakeholders will highlight what needs to be expedited, as it is about improving public safety,” Mr Poole said.

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