Keep safe during abalone season

WITH the death of Frederico Nevolo this week after the abalone fisherman got into difficulties in rough conditions, Recfishwest and Surf Life Saving WA have urged others craving the seafood delicacy to remain mindful of the conditions and stay safe.

The popular west coast zone abalone season sees thousands of fishers take to the inshore reefs around the metropolitan coastline, during the one-hour fishing periods from 7am-8am on the first Sunday of each month until March.

But last weekend’s rough conditions led to SLSWA having to perform more than 50 rescues.

Recfishwest CEO Andrew Rowland says it’s a great way to spend the morning with the family, but only if all goes well.

“We urge Abalone fishers to exercise caution whilst fishing and to be aware of the weather conditions,” Dr Rowland said.

The Abalone season is stretched out over several months and allows for plenty of opportunities for people to get out and fish for them.

“Quite simply, if the weather is unfavourable or you’re unsure of your ability in the water during rough conditions, don’t risk your life. Go next month when the weather may be better,” Dr Rowland said.

A number of surf clubs joined with SLSWA to put on additional services for Sunday’s season opening, including jetski response teams, and a helicopter to cover key locations.

SLSWA general manager Chris Peck says there have now been four deaths in the past four years — “an alarmingly high number for this one recreational activity”.

“Traditionally we will also see cases of hypothermia, or be required to perform resuscitations having retrieved fishers from the water where they may have been washed off the rocks.”

Recfishwest and SLSWA have offered these tips for all abalone fishers:

• Before heading out check weather conditions, including wind conditions and swells.

• Don’t attempt to fish if you are unsure about conditions. Read the warning signs.

• Wear appropriate clothing or wetsuits – avoid heavy clothing, including tracksuits and work boots that become water logged and heavy.

• Never fish alone – stay in a group and keep an eye out for your friends and other fishers.

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