Safety plea for Pacific fishers

Press Release – WaterSafe Auckland

Be prepared with knowledge of local conditions and dangers, take appropriate safety precautions and above all, wear a lifejacket. That’s the plea from Auckland’s water safety and Pacific injury prevention sectors following the spate of drownings …01 November 2011

Safety plea for Pacific fishers

Be prepared with knowledge of local conditions and dangers, take appropriate safety precautions and above all, wear a lifejacket.

That’s the plea from Auckland’s water safety and Pacific injury prevention sectors following the spate of drownings this past week, all involving net fishing, a popular fishing method in the Pacific Islands.

“Fishing in warm lagoons with little or no surf, is very different to the unpredictable and often treacherous sea conditions we experience here in Auckland, as we have tragically discovered,“ says WaterSafe Auckland (WAI) Chief Executive Sandy Harrop, herself of Samoan heritage and PIPA executive member.

The survival of two fishermen reportedly wearing lifejackets, highlights how valuable and essential this piece of safety equipment is. Not only does it provide flotation, but by allowing the wearer to remain still it helps conserve energy and delay the onset of hypothermia.

Over the past week, surf lifeguards from Kariaotahi and Sunset Beach Surf Life Saving Clubs have been involved in the search and rescue of fishermen who were swept out to sea while net fishing near the mouth of the Waikato River. They have seen first-hand the tragic circumstances that can arise by people not being prepared in and around water.

Says Brett Sullivan, General Manager, Programmes and Services for Surf Life Saving New Zealand, “Everyone who enters the water needs to have taken the proper safety precautions. A few minutes taken in putting a lifejacket on will save lives.”

Since 2006 Pacific peoples have accounted for 23 percent of Auckland’s drowning toll, while representing less than 20 percent of the population. WAI is working closely with PIPA and Auckland’s Pacific community to address this overrepresentation, through educational interventions delivered in partnership with churches, workplaces and community groups.

“This is not just about learning to swim, but having the knowledge to make safer decisions in and around water,” says Sandy. “We hope that valuable learnings will be gained from these tragic events.

Preventing further tragedy will be high on the agenda for Pacific representatives attending WAI’s Aquatic Education and Drowning Prevention Forum on November 11, at the Marine Rescue Centre, which will include presentations on Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s Coastal Audit Tool and New Zealand Search and Rescue’s new Water and Boat safety codes.

ENDS

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