LIFESAVING Victoria has issued a list of safety measures for rock fishing which it sees as one of the most dangerous aquatic sports in Australia.
The rocky shorelines of Mornington Peninsula facing Bass Strait are as much a lure to anglers as their baits are to fish, and just as deadly.
On 10 January a 67-year-old man died after being swept from rocks while fishing at Sorrento.
One week later a 26-year-old fisherman was washed off the rocks at Bridgewater Bay in Portland.
The two deaths sparked an appeal from Life Saving Victoria for anglers to take more precautions.
Top of the list is for rock fishers to wear lifejackets and never fish alone.
The check list also cautions them to wear appropriate, lightweight clothing and footwear, avoid fishing during rough weather or where there are large waves, plan and escape route and “observe first, fish later”.
A news release from LSV quotes Chinese fisherman Victor Fan, who survived a rock fishing drowning incident in January 2012 at Pyramid Rock.
“People don’t realise just how dangerous rock fishing can be, I know I certainly didn’t,” Mr Fan is quoted as saying.
“I urge people to learn from my mistake and ensure they prepare for changing conditions and always wear a lifejacket. No fish is worth risking your life.”
Statistics show there were 13 drownings along the Bass Strait coast between 2000-2012.
Most of the incidents involved men aged 35-59 years from a non-English speaking background.
None were wearing lifejackets.
“It’s a sad reality that the simple act of wearing a lifejacket would have most likely saved many lives,” LSV principal research associate Dr Bernadette Matthews said.
“If you do get swept off the rocks unexpectedly, wearing a properly fitting lifejacket will keep you afloat with your head above water until help can arrive.”
Information on rock fishing: www.lifesavingvictoria.com.au/rockfishing