Albany Sea Rescue commander pleads with rock fishers to wear life jackets to avoid a tragic holiday period

Campbell WilliamsonAlbany Advertiser
Albany Sea Rescue commander Derek Ryall said people must take their safety seriously.
Camera IconAlbany Sea Rescue commander Derek Ryall said people must take their safety seriously. Credit: Supplied

“How are your family going to feel when you go in the water, we go looking for you and we can’t find you?”

That is the question posed by Albany Sea Rescue commander Derek Ryall on the eve of the Easter holidays to those who would fish from rocks without a lifejacket.

Mr Ryall speaks from tragic experience.

In the past 20 years, dozens of people have died after being swept from rocks fishing in WA — and the coastline around Albany has emerged as the deadliest in the State.

Mr Ryall’s sea rescue group has been involved in regular searches for rock fishers over the years, with three young men and woman lost in the past three years alone.

Despite their best efforts to urge people to wear lifejackets or avoid rock fishing altogether, the safety message has not sunk in.

Albany Sea Rescue Commander Derek Ryall is encouraging those heading out on the water over the holiday period to be well prepared and carry the correct safety equipment.
Camera IconAlbany Sea Rescue Commander Derek Ryall is encouraging those heading out on the water over the holiday period to be well prepared and carry the correct safety equipment. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

With an especially busy Easter period ahead, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions has put out the call for fishers to “keep the sand between their toes”.

DBCA Albany district manager Peter Hartley said the key piece of advice was to fish from sandy beaches, not rock platforms.

In 2019, the State Government started a three-year compulsory lifejacket trial at Salmon Holes, with fines of up to $1000 for rock fishers not wearing lifejackets.

But Mr Ryall said the danger was more widespread.

Albany Sea Rescue have pushed for lifejackets to be made compulsory for rock fishers across the State, in line with a WA coroner’s recommendation in 2018.

“Salmon Holes is basically no worse than a lot of other rocks around this south coast, from Augusta through to Esperance,” Mr Ryall said.

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