My Beach

Despite no fatalities last season but with rescue numbers alarmingly high, Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) is urging fishers to put personal safety and the safety of friends, family and fellow fishers ahead of their catch as the annual West Coast Zone abalone fishing season opens this weekend.

Surf Life Saving WA General Manager Chris Peck said that volunteer surf lifesavers performed 62 rescues, administered 59 cases of first aid, and performed more than 2,000 preventative actions last year.

“In just 5 hours of fishing, this figure is way too high and implies that fishers are not heeding the warnings about the dangerous nature of this activity,” said Mr Peck.

Recognised as the most dangerous coastal recreational activity in WA, six* abalone fishing fatalities have been recorded since 2012.

SLSWA delivers a range of safety services across select locations during the one-hour fishing sessions, including jet ski, inflatable rescue boat and beach-based patrols, and the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service.

Despite these services, they remind fishers that they must take responsibility and necessary precautions for their own safety.

“Fishers need to assess the conditions of the day, choose a location based on their abilities and, if necessary, stay home if the conditions are not favourable to their abilities,” said Mr Peck.

“Just because a session is scheduled, it doesn’t mean you need to attend.”

Mr Peck says there are numerous measures that fishers can put in place to maximise their catch and give them the best chance of returning safely home to their family.

“We encourage fishers to seek out a location patrolled by our services and to wear and carry gear appropriate to the activity,” said Mr Peck.

“And most importantly, stay in a group and keep a constant eye on mates and other fishers.”

Abalone fishing in the West Coast Zone is permitted between 7:00 am – 8:00 am on the following dates:

  • Saturday, 11 December 2021
  • Saturday, 8 January 2022
  • Saturday, 5 February 2022
  • Saturday, 19 February 2022

Further abalone fishing location, safety information and resources, including areas where Surf Life Saving WA services will be patrolling, can be found at www.mybeach.com.au/abalone

Additional statistics 2020/21 season

  • No. fishing sessions: 5
  • SLSWA Person hours committed: 3,000
  • Ave. no. surf lifesavers per session: 162

*Statistics are subject to change, pending the outcome of ongoing coronial investigations.

In 2019/20, Surf Life Saving WA received a $300,000 Abalone Fisher Safety grant through the WA Government’s Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, to be applied to initiatives across the areas of prevention, rescue, education, research, and regulation.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: media@slswa.com.au | P: 9207 6666