Taking proper safety precautions, quick thinking backed by education and a swift response from volunteer lifeguards and emergency services may have saved a fisherman swept off the rocks at Piha on Saturday.
WaterSafe Auckland Chief Executive Officer Jonathon Webber says such accidents typically end in tragedy – a fatality – but this time it didn’t for several very good reasons.
Jonathon says those factors were:
- The fisherman was well prepared, wasn’t fishing alone, his companion had a cellphone to call 111, and both were wearing lifejackets.
- A life-ring (angel-ring) was available and used by the man’s companion.
- The rescue involved a combined response by the emergency services: Westpac Rescue Helicopter, SurfCom (Surf Life Saving Northern Region), Piha Surf Life Saving Club, St John Ambulance and the New Zealand Police.
- The impact of the West Coast Rock Fishing Safety project, a decade-long successful educational intervention that has significantly reduced fisher drownings.
Surf Life Saving Northern Region CEO Matt Williams says all involved were pleased the fisher survived his ordeal. “But it does highlight the significant risk attached to West Coast rock-fishing, a risk that is heightened when a big surf is running.”
Several hands-on, land-based fishing workshops have been delivered in recent months for Auckland’s Asian communities, as part of the Safety Project, an ongoing partnership between WaterSafe Auckland, Surf Life Saving Northern Region and Auckland Council, aimed at reducing rock fishing fatalities on Auckland’s west coast beaches.
Read more about the West Coast Rock Fishing Safety Project here.