Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party calls for mandatory footwear, wetsuits while rock fishing

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Image: Patrick Linehan

THE Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party is calling for footwear and wetsuits to be mandatory for rock fishing in New South Wales.

South Coast-based MLC Mark Banasiak has introduced a bill in parliament that he hopes will help protect the lives of people who love the sport.

"Too often we see lives lost because those who participate in rock fishing are not armed with the safety knowledge needed to partake in the sport.

"The current legislation made it so that a life jacket was all that was required for safety equipment and that was that."

Banasiak asked members of the Legislative Council to imagine they were rock fishing on a slippery and wet ocean ledge.

"You decide you would like to throw a line in at your local rock fishing spot, you've abided by the Rock Fishing Safety Act of 2016 in its current form, and you are wearing your one piece of safety equipment: your life jacket.

"On your feet are your favourite pair of beach thongs. A large wave hits the ledge that you are standing on and sweeps your feet out from underneath you.

"The thongs on your feet get caught and you cannot regain your footing. You are subsequently swept off the ledge.

"Do we see the issue? I certainly hope so."

Banasiak said lightweight nonslip boots should be mandatory on granite surfaces, while shoes with cleats or spikes must be worn at all other high-risk locations.

He added that a wetsuit was as effective for floating as a life jacket, but "had the additional advantages of allowing the fisher to dive and swim under waves".

He also told parliament that he wanted fines to be removed from the Act.

"No minister can provide concise and accurate answers on the amount of money raised through fines and how they have been reallocated and returned through the recreational fishing trust.

"Awareness and maintenance at rock fishing locations so far has been raised through volunteer groups like the Recreational Fishing Alliance and ANSA (Australian National Sportfishing Association).

"The ANSA NSW angel rings are orange life buoys that are put at high-risk locations; they have saved nearly 100 lives through that initiative alone."

Wollongong MP Paul Scully has previously called for the council there to complete its review of the Act as a matter of urgency.

He says he will look at the SFF Party legislation carefully.

Source: ABC News

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