Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast and the Hunter Scot MacDonald MLC has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement coastal councils now have the choice to opt-in to mandate the use of lifejackets while rock fishing.
This follows the 12-month trial of the Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016 (RFSA) in the Randwick Local Government Area, whereby the NSW Government commissioned an independent evaluator to assess the implementation of the RFSA and suggest options for the future.
“It is now up to the community to come forward to Local Government with their view on whether to opt in to the scheme. The NSW Government stands ready to work with communities who want this law activated,” Mr MacDonald said.
Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said the decision to adopt the law will be one for each council, which is consistent with other water safety measures including signage and lifeguard services.
“We know there is demand for the law in other coastal areas and the NSW Government is giving councils another tool in their water safety tool kit,” Mr Grant said.
“Any additional declarations will only be made at the request of local councils, as they have detailed knowledge of their communities and share enforcement responsibility.”
Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said that the NSW Government’s message to rock fishers remains - wear a life jacket at all times, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, check the weather and never fish alone.
“Wearing a life jacket can mean the difference between rock fisher living and dying. It is not the only safety measure rock fishers should take, but it is a critical one,” Mr Blair said.
Councils that elect to opt-in to the law will be provided with support including up to $30,000 each from the Water Safety Fund and a tool kit that has been created with the assistance of Randwick Council that includes educational materials and signage.
The NSW Government will also undertake an immediate review of lifejacket standards to identify additional international standards that also meet the same quality and performance standards set under the Australian Standard.
In addition, the NSW Government will also continue to collect data to ensure enforcement and education initiatives are targeted effectively.