Lifesavers come to rescue of abalone fishers

Yanchep Surf Life Saving Club volunteer Bev Heesters helps an abalone fisher.
Yanchep Surf Life Saving Club volunteer Bev Heesters helps an abalone fisher.

VOLUNTEER surf lifesavers rescued five abalone fishers at Yanchep Lagoon last Sunday.

Yanchep Surf Life Saving Club president John Heesters said all the rescues were minor because they had four lifesavers positioned on the reef during the one-hour fishing session on February 2.

Mr Heesters said conditions were rough, with a 2.1m swell bowling over fishers several times and the lifesavers also took about 40 preventative actions to issue safety advice.

He said numbers were lower than normal, with about 60 fishers venturing on to the reef and, for the first time, some abalone fishers heeded their advice not to enter the water.

‘Some have come kitted out, but did not go out,’ he said.

Training for his bronze medallion, volunteer lifesaver Dean Jory had his first two rescues happen simultaneously when two fishers were knocked off the reef into the lagoon.

Mr Heesters said they were concerned about the clothing and equipment some fishers used, noting one man was wearing a weightbelt that would drag him under the water if a wave knocked him off the reef. He said others were carrying eskies and buckets that could drag them under if they filled with water.

The fifth and final recreational abalone fishing session for this season is on March 2. Last month the Department of Fisheries charged five people in the South-West with exceeding the bag limit for abalone.

They received penalties totalling $23,500 from Busselton Magistrates Court.

For more details on the abalone season and regulations, visit www.fish.wa.gov.au or for safety advice, visit www.recfishwest.org.au.