Safety group target Kiwi rock fishers through campaign launch

By Wright Communications

The summer holidays are in sight for many New Zealanders and our nation’s coastlines will be busy with eager Kiwis fishing at their favourite rock spots. To keep rock fishers safe this season, the Rock Fishing Steering Group - a partnership between Surf Life Saving Northern Region (SLSNR), Drowning Prevention Auckland (DPA) and Auckland Council, will launch their rock fishing safety project on Friday 21 December at Muriwai Beach’s Flat Rock.

The Rock Fishing Steering Group considers the launch very timely due to previous rock fishing tragedies that have occurred this year. By holding the event at this notorious rock fishing place on the west coast, the group hopes to drive home important rock fishing safety messages and remind the public to always wear a lifejacket to avoid the risks of rock fishing. The launch will signal the beginning of their rock fishing safety campaign this season and will run from 11am – 3pm. 

DPA Aquatic Educator and leader of the rock fishing project Harry Aonga says it’s important that fishers can return to their families safely after a day on the rocks.

 “Education and awareness is vital to ensure people can enjoy rock fishing and return home safely. One of our goals is to educate rock fishers on why lifejackets need to be worn regardless of the conditions,” he says.

On the day, the group will encourage fishermen to wear lifejackets by demonstrating what’s ‘fashionably’ vital for a safe rock fishing trip. DPA will be modelling the correct rock fishing attire to educate fishers, giving the public the opportunity to engage through an interactive lifejacket station and premium Hutchwilco lifejacket giveaways.

Rock Fishing Safety Advisor ‘Rockman’ Sam Turbott will be present at the launch with SLSNR representatives to carry out rescue demonstrations for attendees. The team will perform a jet-ski and angel ring rescue demonstration with an in-water lifejacket display. SLSNR Operational Project Support person Ben Julian says that many rock fisher’s under-estimate waves and swells.

"When fishermen find themselves in danger on the rocks, wearing a life jacket may be the difference between life and death,” he says. “We want rock fishers to be well-equipped to keep themselves and their peers safe.”  

The Rock Fishing Steering Group has been campaigning for rock fishing safety along the West Coast for 13 years, resulting in a reduction of drowning numbers and an increase in people wearing lifejackets throughout their partnership. But Auckland Council’s Stuart Leighton says there’s still more work to do.

“Some fishers continue to place themselves at risk by choosing not to wear a lifejacket even when having one on could ultimately save their life. The West Coast is a dynamic environment that requires respect in order to stay safe,” he says.

Following the launch of the rock fishing safety project the Rock Fishing Steering Group will continue to campaign through safety education and awareness with rock fishers along the west coast.

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