Fishing is a popular activity and a great way to enjoy the outdoors but there are always risks associated with water. Fishing from rocks is particularly dangerous. A number of fishers drown in Western Australia each year after being swept off rocks by large or unexpected waves, or by slipping on wet rocks into the water.
Be prepared - check the Department of Fisheries website for information on fishing regulations, including licensing. Also, check the Bureau of Meteorology for weather forecasts and information on tides. Know the area and know the conditions. Ask advice from locals who know the area.
Keep the sand between your toes - stay safe and fish from the beach where you still have access to salmon and other big fish.
If you go fishing from rocks:
- Wear appropriate clothing, cleats or rockhoppers and a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times. It is mandatory to wear a PFD at Salmon Holes in Torndirrup National Park.
- Never fish alone. Always fish with a buddy.
- Read the safety signs. Take note of the locations of any safety equipment at the site (for example anchor points, angel rings) and know how to use them. If anchor points are provided, read the instructions on the sign and use them. Tie on and encourage others to tie onto them as well.
- Be wary of strong winds and slippery rocks. Avoid black rock areas, which are particularly slippery.
- Observe first, fish later. Spend at least 20 minutes watching the ocean to get an idea of swells and waves. Stay alert – never turn you back on the ocean.
- Plan your escape route in case you are washed into the water. If you are swept into the water, stay calm, swim away from the rocks and look for a safe place to come ashore or to stay afloat to await help.
- If someone else is washed into the water, do not jump in after them. Throw them a rope, or something that floats, and dial 000.
Visit Recfishwest and Fish and Survive for more information on rock fishing safety in English and other languages.
Check Explore our Parks for parks that are suitable for launching boats, mooring areas and restricted boating areas.
Before heading out onto the water, check your boating equipment thoroughly. Ensure you have all the safety gear required by Department of Transport and that it is in good working order. Your safety equipment should include personal flotation devices (PFD), distress beacon (EPIRB), marine radio, transceiver, flares, effective anchor and line, bailer or bilge pump, fresh water, first aid kit, rope, toolkit, torch, signalling mirror, fire extinguisher and alternative power source/spare motor.
Take the time to plan your trip to make sure it’s a safe one. Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back.
Check the forecast prior to launching your boat and for the length of time you plan to be on the water. Be prepared that weather can change quickly, potentially making boat ramp or beach retrieval more difficult on your return.
If you are going to an unfamiliar location, carry a chart of the area you intend go to. Familiarise yourself with the position of navigational markers and potential hazards before you depart.
Refer to the Department of Transport for information on boating regulations and safety, tide and coastal weather forecasts and for nautical charts.
Tell a trusted and responsible person where you are going, your point of departure and when you are expected to return.
Ensure your canoe or kayak and equipment are all in good condition and suitable for the location and conditions. Always wear an approved personal flotation device (PDF). Head protection is recommended for white water conditions.
Wear suitable clothing for the conditions and sun protection and make sure you are highly visible to other people, including those in boats.
Paddling conditions vary greatly through the seasons and throughout the day. Winds, tides and currents are important factors especially for ocean and estuary paddling. On inland rivers and lakes, beware of submerged hazards and snags such as logs or tree roots.
Check PaddleWA for more comprehensive information. If you are not a confident swimmer, do not go into or onto the water.
Marine laws, including those on mandatory safety equipment, apply to ocean paddling. Go to the Department of Transport for more information.
Snorkelling and diving
Always snorkel with a ‘buddy,’ never alone. Tell a trusted and responsible person where you are going, your point of departure and when you expect to return.
Ensure you have a correctly fitting mask, snorkel and fins and know how to use them. In cooler waters, consider wearing a wetsuit, gloves and boots.
If you are not a confident swimmer, do not go snorkelling without a suitable flotation device.
Assess the conditions prior to entering the water. Check entry and exit points, waves, currents, visibility and the presence/proximity of boats.
If you snorkel more than 50 metres from shore, or in areas where there may be boat activity, ensure you use an internationally recognised diver’s flag (a large float with a dive flag attached).
SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) and surface supplied breathing apparatus (SSBA or hookah) diving are specialised activities that require training and are subject to rules and regulations.
Find out about safety and rules related to water sports in Western Australia, including diving, water skiing, tow-in surfing and essential regulations for personal watercraft from the Department of Transport.