Life jacket saves rock fisher, NSW

A life jacket worn by a rock fisher at Port Kembla has helped save the man’s life after he was washed off rocks into the ocean this morning, NSW Police say.

The 37-year-old Auburn man was rock fishing with a relative at Hill 60 when the wave hit about 6.30am (Tuesday 27 February 2018).

Officers from the Marine Area Command and Lake Illawarra Police District responded, along with a rescue helicopter.

The man was pulled onto a water police vessel by officers after being in the water for approximately 20 minutes in rough seas.

He was taken to the Port Kembla Outer Harbour boat ramp and treated on scene before being taken to Wollongong Hospital. He is in a stable condition.

Marine Area Commander, Superintendent Mark Hutchings, said the man’s approved life jacket may well have saved his life.

“So many times we are called to incidents like this where the outcome is tragic because the person was not wearing a life jacket,” Supt Hutchings said.

“This man was able to stay afloat in rough seas until rescuers could reach him and, together with the fact he was fishing with another person who was able to call for help, that’s most likely why he is still alive today,” Supt Hutchings said.

“As this incident shows, being washed into the ocean can happen in an instant. If you’re rock fishing, please wear a life jacket.”

Rock anglers are urged to follow these safety tips when they venture out:

* Always wear a life jacket
* Make enquiries and check weather and conditions before you leave home
* Observe first/fish later: watch your intended fishing spot to get an idea of the conditions over a full swell/wave cycle
* Carry safety gear; head protection, as well as a float and line to help anyone else who might be washed into the water.
* Never fish by yourself and always stand within sight of each other
* Make sure you let family and friends know where you are going and when you’ll be back
* Carry a mobile phone
* Never fish in exposed areas during rough or large seas and be aware that conditions may change dramatically in a short period of time
* Stay alert. Never turn your back on the sea
* If waves, the weather or swell threaten your fishing spot, leave immediately
* If in doubt, don’t go out
* In the event of an emergency, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.

Further safety information can be found at: www.safefishing.com.au and https://www.watersafety.nsw.gov.au/

Multilingual rock fishing safety brochures can be downloaded from the website: https://www.watersafety.nsw.gov.au/Pages/Rock-fishing/Rock-fishing.aspx

In addition, ‘angel rings’ or life buoys have been installed at black spots along the state’s coast by the Australian National Sportfishing Association, with the support of the Department of Sport and Recreation and NSW Sporting Injuries Insurance.

The flotation devices are located on rock platforms and easily accessible in case of an emergency.

/Public Release.