Recreational abalone fishing season ends in tragedy following death of Korean tourist at Ocean Reef

Abalone patrol at Yanchep Lagoon.
Abalone patrol at Yanchep Lagoon.

THE recreational abalone fishing season ended with tragedy on Saturday when a man (62) died after lifesavers found him unconscious in the water.

WA Police are investigating the Korean visitor’s death and will prepare a report for the coroner.

According to police, the man was on rocks north of Ocean Reef marina fishing for abalone with family members about 7.35am on February 17.

“A (lifesaving) jet ski patrolling the area located the man unconscious in the water around 8am,” police spokeswoman Ros Weatherall said.

“The man was taken to Joondalup Health Campus where he later died.”

The fourth one-hour fishing period on February 17 marked the end of a season of changes designed to improve safety for fishers and lifesavers.

“It’s sad that it still ended in tragedy,” Yanchep Surf Life Saving Club president John Heesters said.

“The changes are definitely a step in the right direction.

“It’s good to see some interagency co-operation.

“It still needs a little bit of tweaking – we always strive to improve.”

While Yanchep volunteers were not involved in the Ocean Reef incident, Mr Heesters said he understood the man who died was in an area where people did not normally fish and it took time for rescue patrols to reach the site.

Overall, he said the season had gone well with few rescues required at Yanchep Lagoon.

“This year we were blessed with good weather every day – low tide, low swell,” he said.

“We’ve had a good run on our beach – a few cuts and bruises; not very many rescues.”

Mr Heesters said abalone fishers were starting to dress more appropriately and carrying floatation aides.

He said the support from Two Rocks Volunteer Marine Rescue Group and other surf life saving clubs helped local volunteers improve abalone patrols.

Ahead of the final fishing session, Fisheries said catch levels were on track to be within the target range of 18 to 22 tonnes of Roe’s abalone caught in the West Coast zone over the four-day season.

Changes included reducing the number of fishing sessions from five to four, changing the dates from Sundays to Saturdays and holding them in summer rather than late spring and early autumn.

MORE: Police investigating dead body at Trigg Beach

MORE: Two pedestrians hit by alleged drink-driver in Mullaloo carpark

MORE: Kalamunda woman charged with alleged stealing of nearly $2m

MORE: Beaufort Pet Parade not just for dogs and cats