Rock fishing has been labelled as one of the most dangerous sports in Australia, claiming the life of about 13 people each year.
Regardless of your fishing abilities, the ocean can be extremely dangerous and unpredictable.
Before you begin rock fishing, please carefully consider the safety tips below.
- Always wear a lifejacket
If you are swept into the ocean, a lifejacket will help keep you afloat until assistance arrives. Most rock fishing fatalities occur when people are not wearing a lifejacket. See the Surf Life Saving NSW page for help finding the right lifejacket for you.
- Regularly check weather and tide conditions
Check before you leave home and continue to monitor conditions while you're fishing. See the Bureau of Meteorology for the latest updates on weather conditions.
- Identify the safest location to fish
Consider weather conditions, tidal changes, wind and wave action and marine warnings. You should also consider a possible escape route in case you're swept into the water.
See the Bureau of Meteorology website for more information on marine forecasts and warnings.
- Wear appropriate clothing and footwear
Rock platforms are often very slippery, so it is important to wear shoes with non-slip soles or cleats. Always wear lightweight clothing, so you are not weighed down if you're swept into the water.
See the Surf Life Saving NSW page for more information on what you should wear when rock fishing.
- Always fish with others
Rock fishing can be unpredictable. Never fish alone, and make sure you let others know where you will be going.
- Carry a mobile phone, EPIRB or radio
In the case of an emergency, it is important to have a readily available communication device to dial 000 or call for help.
If someone is swept into the water:
- DO NOT jump in after them.
- In the case of an emergency, call 000 immediately.
- If there is a lifebuoy, angel ring or flotation device nearby, throw it to the person to help them keep afloat until assistance arrives.
Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016
On 12 September 2022, Wollongong City Council resolved to opt-in to the Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016, to make life jackets mandatory for rock fishing at high-risk locations.
A high-risk rock fishing location is defined in the legislation as ‘naturally occurring rock platforms or other rock formations exposed to ocean swell within a declared area’. See our map PDF, 3551.54 KB to explore identified high-risk rock fishing locations across Wollongong.
Council will write to the Minister for Local Government to make a declaration under the Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016 to request that Wollongong Local Government Area be declared an area where high-risk rock fishing takes place.
The decision follows stakeholder and community engagement earlier in the year to seek input into an option to opt-in to the Act.
Following the Council resolution to opt-in to the legislation, the legislation requires an initial 12-month moratorium on infringements. Following this, enforcement will be pursued by NSW Police through the issuing of Penalty Infringement Notices, paid into the Recreational Fisheries (Saltwater) Trust.
See our media release for information about the decision.
As part of our ongoing campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of rock fishing, Council has installed two new multi-lingual danger signs at Hill 60 in Port Kembla. See our media release for details.
This is in addition to rock fishing safety workshops at key locations including Port Kembla, which have been delivered in collaboration with other stakeholders, including Surf Life Saving NSW and NSW Police, to build awareness of the risks associated with rock fishing.
Rock fishing safety tips fact sheet
The Surf Life Saving NSW rock fishing safety infographic is available in a range of community languages below.
- English - Rock Fishing Safety Tips
- Arabic - Rock Fishing Safety Tips
- Korean - Rock Fishing Safety Tips
- Simplified Chinese - Rock Fishing Safety Tips
- Traditional Chinese - Rock Fishing Safety Tips
- Vietnamese - Rock Fishing Safety Tips
Surf Life Saving NSW also has rock fishing safety information available in a range of community languages.
Rock fishing safety
Fish safe off the rocks
Greg Finney's story
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