Rock fishing or ‘fishing from the rocks’ is a cultural and traditional activity on St Helena. For many years, rock fishing has provided fishermen the opportunity to use the ocean surrounding St Helena to provide a fresh ‘catch’ for their family and friends. It is also a recreational pastime that is enjoyed by many.
Whilst rock fishing is certainly a St Helenian tradition, it can also result in an emergency situation if not carried out safely. With many of the favourite rock fishing spots being difficult to access – some only accessible by boat – it is imperative that appropriate safety measures are taken.
As part of their Safety Awareness Campaign, the St Helena Sea Rescue Service would like to ensure that everyone is aware of the best ways to keep safe when rock fishing.
When rock fishing around St Helena:
- Never fish alone and always stay in sight of one another. Ideally, fish with two or more people – if there is an incident involving an individual, a second person can stay and assist while the third person gets help
- Before you set-off, make sure someone knows where you are going, who is going with you, and when to expect you back
- Always be aware of the tides. When the tide comes in, the water can rise very quickly, making previously safe fishing spots far more dangerous. A change in tide can cause waves to increase in size and intensity very quickly
- It is important that you have a thorough understanding of the area where you are fishing. It is better to fish with someone who has knowledge and experience of that particular fishing spot. This will not only increase safety but potentially the size of your catch as well
- Always pay attention and never turn your back on the sea. A sudden wave, even in calm weather, can knock a person off balance and into the water
- Always be aware of crevasses. Some of the areas between rocks can be fairly large and one misstep could lead to a nasty fall. Pay attention to where you step and if you are fishing at night, always have adequate lighting
- Look for footholds and stay away from sloping and/or slippery edges
- If you do not know how to swim, make sure that others with you are aware of this
- Never rock fish under the influence of alcohol
Things you should wear/pack when rock fishing:
- Always wear appropriate footwear. Rocks can become very slippery due to water and algae growth. Don’t rush while navigating the rocks and take care to avoid slipping or cutting yourself on sharp edges
- Try to wear lightweight garments, worn in layers. Bulky woollen jumpers become heavy and can be difficult to remove if you fall in the water
- Wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) or a lifejacket. Falling into the ocean can be extremely dangerous especially in strong waves or currents. Wearing a PFD or lifejacket increases the chances of survival and a safe recovery. Make sure your PFD is fluorescent so it can be easily seen
- Never wear waders when rock fishing. These can quickly become heavy if you fall in the water
- Always pack an adequate supply of food and plenty of drinking water
- Take a fully charged mobile phone with you. Ideally, if you have a handheld GPS and/or handheld radio then ensure they are also packed
- Take a First-Aid kit. This should include at least a bandage, gauze, plasters and some antiseptic cream or wipes along with any prescribed medication
- Always pack a torch, even if you don’t plan on being out after dark
- Remember to protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen, lip balm, an appropriate hat and sunglasses
These tips will help ensure you have the safest possible experience when rock fishing around St Helena. Please ensure that you, along with your family and friends, are aware of this advice.
Deputy Sea Rescue Manager, Leeroy Caswell, said:
“Rock fishing can be a dangerous activity if not carried out safely. Whilst it can be enjoyable and rewarding, this activity can change from being fun to a life threatening situation within an instant. If you follow the points above before and during your trip, it should become more enjoyable knowing you have all these safety precautions in place. Remember your safety is in your hands.”
#StHelena #SeaRescueService #SafetyAwarenessCampaign #RockFishing #AltogetherSafer
9 April 2019