Why is this happening?

    Rock fishing continues to be one of Australia’s highest-risk sports and recreational pastimes. Since January 2021, six rock fishers have lost their lives at the rock platform known as Honeycomb Rocks at Port Kembla, Wollongong. 

    Since these tragic events, Council has actively engaged with key stakeholders to implement strategies to reduce the likelihood of rock fishing tragedies occurring within the LGA.

     The Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016 continues to remain the only available legislative means in New South Wales to have rock fishers mandated to wear an appropriate lifejacket when fishing at high-risk locations. 

    Which locations will be affected?

    If Council were to opt into the Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016, the Wollongong Council Local Government Area (LGA) would become an area declared as high risk for rock fishing. Under the Act, a high risk rock fishing location is a “naturally occurring rock platform or other rock formation exposed to ocean swell”. This means that all naturally occurring rock platforms and rock formations exposed to ocean swell within Wollongong LGA would become declared high risk areas and be subject to enforcement. While man-made structures such as break walls or concrete structures often pose the same dangers, they are not included in the definition, and therefore would not be affected by this proposal. 

     View the maps to see which locations we're proposing to declare High Risk Rock Fishing Areas.

    Why do all rock platforms have to be declared high-risk locations?

    The standard approach used by Local Governments across coastal NSW is to include all rock platforms as high risk rock fishing locations. This is due to there being a range of variables that can impact coastal areas at any given time, such as swell and weather conditions.

    Why are the rock platforms on Five Islands not included as high risk?

    There is no public access to Five Islands Nature Reserve.

    Who will make the final decision?

    Wollongong City Council will make the final decision on whether to opt in to the Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016 or not. 

     It is anticipated that Council will consider this matter at their September 2022 meeting.

    If Council opts into the Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016, how long before fishers will be legal required to wear a lifejacket?

    We encourage rock fishers to wear a lifejacket at all times, regardless of whether it is a legal requirement or not, due to the risks and hazards of rock fishing. However, if in September Council decides to opt in to the legislation, it would be anticipated that the enforcement period would not commence until early 2023.

    Who would enforce the legislation?

    The NSW Police are responsible for enforcing the Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016.

    Is the importance of education and awareness being considered?

    We recognise that community education is critical in raising awareness and creating attitude and behaviour change, and we know that our community would need to be supported through these changes.

    If Council does opt in, prior to the enforcement commencing, it is anticipated that we would work with other organisations and government agencies (such as the Department of Primary Industries, NSW Police and Surf Life Saving NSW) to help educate our community on rock fishing safety and the give fishers the opportunity to learn about the new legal requirements.

    What kind of lifejacket must be worn?

    The NSW Government is responsible for lifejacket safety standards and advise that there are a range of lifejackets suitable for use when rock fishing.

     An appropriate lifejacket:

    • For an adult, must meet Australian Standard AS 4758 level 50S or greater
    • For a child (under 12 years of age), must be level 100 Australian Standard AS 4758 or greater
    • Must be the correct size for the wearer
    • If it is inflatable, it cannot rely only on oral inflation (blowing into a mouthpiece) for buoyancy. It must be checked and repaired by a professional every 12 months. Note: a longer service period might apply only if specified by the manufacturer.
    • Must be in good condition
    • Some lifejackets approved under other standards may also meet the requirements.

     More information on the approved types of lifejackets can be found at NSW Government’s website

    Where else in NSW must you wear a lifejacket while rock fishing?

    As of June 2022, it is currently mandatory to wear a lifejacket while rock fishing in the following NSW local government areas: 

    • Ballina Shire
    • Central Coast Council
    • Lake Macquarie City Council
    • Northern Beaches Council
    • Port Stephens Council
    • Randwick City Council
    • Richmond Valley Council
    • Sutherland Shire Council

    Could the legislation change?

    There have been proposals made to change the Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016 so it’s possible the legal requirements could change in the future. 

     Council remains in close contact with the Office of Local Government regarding this matter, and if any changes are made, then Council will act accordingly.