NEWS

Lifeguards to help locate remote rock fishers

Friday 23 December 2011, 11:34AM
By WaterSafe Auckland
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Joint Press Release: WaterSafe Auckland Inc., Auckland Council, Surf Life Saving Northern Region

The employment of lifeguards to seek out rock fishers in remote locations could help save more lives on Auckland’s notorious west coast this summer.

Throughout January the lifeguards will seek out fishers in some of the popular ‘out of the way’ locations, where access may be difficult for anyone but the experts, as part of the West Coast Rock Fishing Safety Project.

“While fishers frequenting popular sites such as Muriwai’s Flat Rock are constantly exposed to the safety messages, those tucking themselves away in these difficult locations are not,” says Councillor Sandra Coney, chair of Auckland Council’s Parks, Recreation and Heritage Forum, “nor do they have the angel rings at their disposal.”

The lifeguards will also be able to provide valuable information as to where these locations are and who is fishing them, which will then help the project determine what further signage, angel ring installations or other interventions are required.

“Since the project began in 2005 we have seen a noticeable swing towards safer behaviour, particularly around the wearing of lifejackets,” says WAI Business Manger Teresa Stanley, with the number of fishers wearing lifejackets/buoyancy aids now up to 50 percent (4% in 2006).”

“However these are the fishers we are able to reach and at this stage in this fishing safety education programme it is important to determine how we best reach these other fishers,” she says.

The West Coast Rock Fishing Safety Project is an ongoing partnership between WaterSafe Auckland, Auckland Council, Surf Life Saving Northern Region and Safe Waitakere, aimed at reducing rock fishing fatalities on Auckland’s west coast beaches.

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For further information and interviews, contact:

Teresa Stanley, Watersafe Auckland, 027 285 9045

Cr Sandra Coney, Auckland Council, 021 446 370

Background
The West Coast Rock Fishing Safety project was born in response to a spate of rock fishing drownings (five in four months) in 2005. The (then) Auckland Regional Council joined with WaterSafe and Surf Life Saving Northern Region to come up with a practical way of changing behaviours of west coast rock fishers.

In the six years the Project has been in place drownings have dropped to an average of one per year. As in previous years, this summer will see Asian speaking rock fishing safety advisors taking the messages to the fishers supported by multilingual signage and resources, and angel rings erected and maintained at eight key locations (evidence suggests they have been instrumental in saving lives). Discount vouchers will also be given to fishers to enable them to purchase lifejackets.

Rock fishing safety advisors are employed by the Auckland Council as temporary ranger staff.

Don’t Put Your Life On The Line – Rock Fishing Safety Messages
• Wear a lifejacket
• Check conditions: tide, surf and weather
• Wear light, warm clothing and sports shoes (not gumboots)
• Take a cell phone, dial 11 in an emergency

What to do in an emergency
• Tell person to relax, float on their back and let the current take them out past the rocks
• Never jump in after the person who has fallen in the water
• Call 111 or send someone for help (such as to the surf club)
• Throw a lifejacket or something else that floats to the person in the water, an angel ring if available
• Keep person in sight to assist search and rescue