Letter to the Editor - Saturday, July 11: Lifejacket concerns

IN last Saturday's article Surf Life Saving welcomed the State Coroner's recommendation that life jackets be mandatory for rock fishing.

This is nothing, but a knee jerk reaction and could actually cause more rock fishing deaths.

Safe Work Australia states personnel protection equipment should be the last line of defence not the first.

Lifesavers do not wear life jackets in the surf as it is not practical in surf conditions and they cannot dive under waves.

It is almost impossible for a rock fisherman to be washed into the water without coming into contact with the rocks often causing severe head injuries wearing a life jacket can have rock fishers smashed against the rocks rather than being able to swim away to a safe distance. Perhaps life jackets that can be inflated when required may be useful, but definitely not life jackets meant for boating

Surf Life Saving's own statistics in both NSW and Western Australia show 69% of those involved in rock fishing deaths are of Asian decent and are often ignorant of dangers.

In the same way we have introduced air bags and seat belts for safe driving, to blindly introduce life jackets for rock fishing is equivalent to making seat belts and air bags mandatory and at the same time having all drivers unlicensed with no driving skills.

Surf lifesavers are held in high esteem by myself and the general community and are trying to do the right thing same as the State Coroner, but experienced rock fisherman like myself see compulsory life jackets as an added danger, giving false security to beginners who should be denied access to rock fishing until they have passed some sort of knowledge test.

After all fishing licences are a legal requirement so why not include an awareness and knowledge test?

Michael Buscombe



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