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Wollongong City Council

Council seeks approval for mandatory life jackets for rock fishers

Monday 12 September 2022

Wollongong City Council is one step closer to making life jackets mandatory for rock fishers following a decision of Council to request the NSW Government to declare the city’s rock platforms high-risk.

The decision follows stakeholder and community engagement earlier in the year to seek input into an option to opt-in to the Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016.

“I think most people in our community understand and appreciate that rock fishing is a high-risk recreational activity,’’ Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said.

“Council has been working for some time with key agencies a collaborative approach to managing this challenge, with a focus on awareness-raising and education.

“But the fact remains that since January 2021, six people have died off Honeycomb Rocks at Port Kembla. We need to do more to support those in our community, as well as visitors, to fish safely, and to care for the first responders who are called to the site.’’

Following tonight’s meeting, Council will write to the Minister for Local Government to make a declaration under the Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016 to request the Wollongong Local Government Area is an area where high-risk rock fishing takes place.

This step follows a series of actions by Council including two multilingual danger signs at Hill 60 in Port Kembla, and the development of safety video content that is available on Council’s website and regularly shared through social media.

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.

While Wollongong’s rock platforms are yet to be formally declared high risk, rock fishers are encouraged to understand the sea conditions, and to wear life jackets and appropriate clothing while fishing.

“We don’t want to stop people rock fishing this is not our intention,’’ Cr Bradbery said.

“What we do want to do is make sure that rock fishers are able to go home to their families and loved ones. That’s why we ask people to do the right thing, be safe and know the conditions before you head out.’’