Life jackets compulsory for rock fishers: Coroner

Albany Advertiser

A WA coroner has recommended the wearing of self-inflating personal flotation devices be made compulsory for all rock fishers across the State after releasing her findings into the drowning deaths of three men at Salmon Holes.

Deputy State Coroner Evelyn Vicker today released her findings into the deaths of Chinese men Chunjun Li and Jiaolong Zhang and Afghan man Ali Soltani following two coronial inquests late last year.

Salmon Holes near Albany.
Camera IconSalmon Holes near Albany. Credit: Barbara Cook

Mr Li and Mr Zhang perished after a large wave swept them off rocks at the notorious fishing spot on April 18, 2015 while Mr Soltani died a year later in a separate incident.

Mr Li’s body was recovered but Mr Zhang’s body was never found.

The inquest was told Mr Soltani had tied himself to a rock anchor point but the rope broke and he was swept into the ocean, then found a day later.

The body of the deceased man is carried along the beach at Albany's Salmon Holes in April 2015.
Camera IconThe body of the deceased man is carried along the beach at Albany's Salmon Holes in April 2015. Credit: Laurie Benson

Ms Vicker made five key recommendations including the implementation of regulations which make it a requirement for rock fishers to wear life jackets and carry a personal emergency positioning rescue beacon (EPIRB).

She noted the life jacket needed to self-inflate on the impact of water, be made of retro reflective material, abrasion resistant and incorporate a light and whistle.

Other recommendations targeted improved emergency communication including an approach to Telstra to install a mobile phone tower on Eclipse Island to assist in alerting first responders along with a marine VHF repeater by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

Further training of drone pilots to assist in rescues and reliable communication plans and channel allocations for marine rescue operations was also recommended.

Salmon Holes during a massive swell in 2015.
Camera IconSalmon Holes during a massive swell in 2015. Credit: Laurie Benson

Ms Vicker said offered her condolences to the families of the three men who had come to Australia seeking a new life.

“On behalf of all those who risk their lives and emotions in these tragic circumstances, please wear life jackets,” she said.

“It may not always save your life but it will help return a better outcome to your families and the community as a whole.”

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