Fishers risk lives despite warnings

Tim Edmunds and Talitha WolfeAlbany Advertiser

Another week, and another group of people risking their lives along the treacherous Great Southern coast.

This newspaper has been sent a number of photos of people close to the cliff’s edge at The Gap and fishing without life jackets or harnesses at the notorious Salmon Holes.

It comes near the anniversary of the death of Afghan refugee Mohammed Ali Soltani, who was swept off rocks at the popular fishing spot in April.

The WA Coroner will this year examine that death, along with those of Chunjun Li and Jiaolong Zhang, who were swept off the rocks during unpredictable 8m swells at Salmon Holes on April 18, 2015, with only one body ever recovered.

Albany Sea Rescue boat captain Chris Johns said he was astounded people still risked their lives.

“You’ve got a magnificent structure out there — it’s amazing that people seem to want to take risks,” he said.

“It’s wonderful that people come here and enjoy our south coast but why you would want to put yourself and others at risk is beyond us.

“They seem to think risk is everybody else’s problem or they are shrouded in some sort of suit of armour that seems to protect them.

“I just don’t get it.”

It comes after footage surfaced last week of a man almost slipping from a 20m-high cliff at the Natural Bridge as he took a photograph.

In the footage, the man kneels close to the precipice, with rain making the granite slippery.

He moves closer to the edge and he loses his footing. It was caught on camera from the nearby lookout by concerned onlookers.

The Gap and the Natural Bridge are among the common hotspots, with six deaths and five serious accidents there since 1973.

Mr Johns said he was “extremely frustrated” by people’s disregard for the safety of themselves and others.

“Its just horrible to think about what actions rescue agencies have to take to retrieve that person, ” he said.

“It’s extremely frustrating when we see this ... if there is an accident the ramifications of that folly can be disastrous.

“And even if that person was floating alive the chances of us getting there in time are remote.”

Albany Sea Rescue also witnessed people fishing off Salmon Holes without safety precautions such as personal floatation devices.

In April last year a 30-year-old man was swept off rocks and drowned while fishing at the site.

The man was the 12th fatality at the location since 1983.

“There are a multitude of places that lend them (PFDs) to you for nothing, ” Mr Johns said.

“These things keep going on and nothing changes and that’s the frustration for us ... nobody seems to learn.”

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