Independent evaluator to review rock fishing trial

Issued 23 November 2017

The NSW Government has extended the moratorium on fines for rock fishers not wearing a lifejacket in the Randwick Local Government Area (LGA) until 31 May 2018 while an independent assessment of the implementation of the Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016 (RFSA) is undertaken.

The NSW Government has commissioned an independent evaluation to review the data and feedback collected over the past 12 months in Randwick, and will include a multi-lingual attitudinal survey of rock fishers in the community. The community can also make a submission to the evaluation.

The last 12 months has allowed Randwick City Council and other agencies involved in the RFSA to trial a range of community engagement strategies, and to develop standard operating procedures and training materials.

The evaluation will provide a basis for the Government to consider the potential further roll out of the RFSA to other NSW coastal communities and how that could best be implemented.

During the extended moratorium the NSW Government will continue to promote safe rock fishing through additional rock fishing workshops, multi-lingual educational material, rock fishing safety campaigns and water safety messaging.

Over summer, the NSW Government is rolling out new water safety advertising and the Old4New van will continue to visit popular rock fishing areas to offer discounted lifejackets. New pamphlets and stickers promoting safe rock fishing are also being designed and will be made available at various retailers including bait shops and petrol stations.

Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said the independent evaluation will provide the Government with a suggested roadmap for the future of the RFSA.

"We need to ensure this legislation has the support and involvement of the community so it delivers the best outcome. We want regulation to be fair. We want to see anglers enjoying our coastline and returning safely to their families," Mr Grant said.

"Government cannot be on every rock ledge. We need to continue to educate and prepare people so they know the risks before they go out to fish.

"Our message to all rock fishers remains - wear a lifejacket at all times, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, check the weather conditions and never fish alone.

"We have invested a record amount in water safety grants, initiatives, and advertising, including for rock fishing, and this investment will continue while the evaluation is being completed."

This year around 200 people attended rock fishing safety workshops in Randwick and were provided with free lifejackets. Since the Old4New program commenced, it has supplied over 22,000 lifejackets to the NSW fishing and boating community.

RFSA enforcement agencies, including NSW Police Force, NSW Department of Primary Industries, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Randwick City Council, will continue to issue warnings to those not wearing lifejackets in the Randwick LGA until 31 May 2018.

As part of the evaluation, there will be people out on the rocks talking to rock fishers and hearing what they have to say. The community will have the opportunity to contribute to the evaluation on the RFSA via the Government's 'have your say' website.