RECREATIONAL fishers have welcomed government measures to improve safety for rock fishermen at the same time as a partial ban on fishing on harbour wharves has been declared.After 15 rock fishing deaths in NSW in the past year, $90,000 will be spent installing 40 ”angel rings” or life buoys and multilingual safety signs at popular fishing spots.Several will be installed at black spots in the Royal National Park and Sutherland Shire, which ranks as the state’s third highest local government area for rock fishing fatalities, a spokesman for the Minister for Primary Industries, Steve Whan, said.Each device costs almost $2000 to install, and about half will be GPS-enabled at a cost of an extra $500 each. The rings issue an electronic warning if the device is tampered with, stolen or used in a rescue. The signs will be in English, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin and Vietnamese. A safety education program will also run in ethnic media.The spokesman said the installation of more life buoys was not tacit encouragement of rock fishing, but a practical measure to improve safety in tandem with education campaigns. There are 108 angel rings along the coast.Meanwhile, the Minister for Ports and Waterways, Paul McLeay, and Drummoyne MP Angela D’Amore announced yesterday a partial ban on fishing from four harbour wharves where there has been conflict between fishers and commuters.Fishing is now banned at Abbotsford, Cabarita, Chiswick and Kissing Point wharves at peak commuter times between 5am and 10am, and to enable access for cleaning.The chairman of the NSW Recreational Fishing Alliance, Malcolm Poole, said the ban was a workable compromise between the interests of fishers, commuters and others.”It could have been all 49 harbour wharves where that ban was applied, but … we negotiated back to that position,” he said. ”This is a trial to see how we can get co-operation going and to try to encourage fishers to do the right thing, or there’s every chance they could lose [the right to fish from the wharves].”The ban is backed by a $250 fine, enforceable by police and NSW Maritime officials.The mayor of Canada Bay, Angelo Tsirekas, said he had hoped for a total fishing ban on the ferry wharves.”I’ve certainly got some doubts whether it’s going to totally solve the problem but this initial step is, I suppose, a start,” Cr Tsirekas said.”My concern is that the impact of these restrictions won’t totally rid the wharves of the problems of the antisocial behaviour, and the problems that fishermen are leaving for commuters.”
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