Despite no fatalities last season but with rescue numbers alarmingly high, Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) is urging fishers to put safety ahead of their catch as the annual West Coast Zone abalone fishing season opens this weekend.
Last year, volunteer surf lifesavers performed 46 rescues, administered 48 cases of first aid, and performed more than 1,300 preventative actions over the four one-hour fishing sessions.
Surf Life Saving WA General Manager Chris Peck, said that while these figures were down on the preceding year, they were still alarming high for the limited window of activity.
“For just 4 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.
“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.
“For those fishers with little to no swimming ability, that means do not fish on reef adjacent to waters where you cannot safely stand.”
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 on-water and beach-based patrols and the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service.
Despite these services, SLSWA reminds fishers to take responsibility and necessary precautions for their own safety and that of friends and family.
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 that is under surveillance by our services and to wear and carry gear appropriate to abalone fishing,” said Mr Peck.
“And most importantly, stay in a group and keep an 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, 10 December 2022
- Saturday, 14 January 2023
- Saturday, 4 February 2023
- Saturday, 18 February 2023
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
*Statistics are subject to change, pending the outcome of ongoing coronial investigations.
In 2022 Surf Life Saving WA received a grant through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Recreational Fishing Fund, to assist in the delivery of Abalone Patrols.
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