Rock fishing is a dangerous pastime. No matter what your skill level or experience, you must always wear a life jacket whilst rock fishing on the Central Coast. A map of high-risk rock fishing locations is published on the NSW Water Safety website.
Rock fishing lifejacket laws on the Central Coast
The Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016 (NSW) came into effect on 1 December 2016. Due to the high number of rock fishing fatalities in New South Wales, it's now law to wear an appropriate lifejacket when rock fishing anywhere in the Central Coast Local Government Area (LGA). An on the spot fine of $100 applies to those fishing without an approved lifejacket from 1 July 2020.
Anyone who is helping you rock fish in the Central Coast LGA, as well as children in your care, must also wear an appropriate lifejacket. To learn more about finding the right lifejacket while rock fishing on the NSW Water Safety website or watch the ‘How to choose the right lifejacket for rock fishing’ video.
For more information about the new legislation visit the NSW Government Water Safety website.
Rock fishing safety tips
Always follow these safety tips when rock fishing:
Wear a life jacket
Wearing an appropriate life jacket is not only the law on the Central Coast, it can also significantly increase your chance of survival if you are washed into the water.
Never fish alone
Fish in a group of at least three people and within sight of each other. If someone is washed in, one person can stay and help while the other alerts emergency services (call 000). Mobile phone users can also dial 112 to access emergency services.
Inform others of your plans
Always let friends or family know where you are going and when you will be back.
Wear light clothing and appropriate footwear
Light clothing such as shorts, and a spray jacket will let you swim easily if you are washed in. Jumpers may be heavy and difficult to take off. Use the appropriate shoes for the conditions - cleats, sandals and sandshoes with non-slip soles suit different surfaces.
Carry safety gear
Wear a life jacket or buoyancy vest. Also bring something buoyant that can be easily thrown and held onto, to help you stay afloat. Carry ropes, a float and torches.
Fish only in places you know are safe and check conditions
Make sure you are aware of local weather, swell and tidal conditions before going fishing. Listen to weather forecasts or call the weather information line on 1900 937 107. Conditions may change dramatically in a short period of time.
You can check swell forecasts via Willy Weather, SeaBreeze or Bureau of Meteorology. You can also Subscribe to Roads and Maritime Authority weather email alerts.
Observe first, fish later
Spend some time (at least 30 minutes) watching your intended spot before fishing to get an idea of the conditions over a full swell/wave cycle. Wave conditions can get worse as the tide changes - you should know whether the tides are high or low and coming in or going out.
Plan an escape route in case you are washed in
If you are washed in, stay calm, swim away from the rocks and look for a safe place to come ashore or stay afloat and wait for help to arrive.
Don't ever turn your back on the sea - if the waves, weather or swell threaten your fishing spot then leave immediately.
Ask for advice from locals who know the area
Locals will be able to tell you when an area is dangerous.
Do not jump in if someone is washed into the water
Use your rope or something that floats to rescue the person. If there's an Angel Ring nearby know how to use it. Dial 000 on your mobile phone to get help.
For regular updates and alerts on fishing in New South Wales, subscribe to Recreational Fishing Alliance safety email alerts and newsletters. Visit the Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW website or Safe Fishing website for detailed rock fishing safety information.