Project number: 2011-404
Project Status:
Completed
Budget expenditure: $35,198.88
Principal Investigator: Stan Konstantaras
Organisation: Australian National Sportfishing Association Ltd (ANSA) NSW
Project start/end date: 31 Jan 2012 - 29 Oct 2013
Contact:
FRDC

Need

There is no question that an Angel Rings program designed to save anglers lives is needed and has wide support, not only from recreational fishers but also throughout the wider community.

Fishers and tourists around Australia have drowned after being swept off coastal rock platforms. In 1993 the life of a rockfishing angler was saved at Moes Rock, south of Jervis Bay (NSW) by a life ring installed by a bereaved father who had lost his son while rockfishing at same spot earlier that year.

This was the impetus for establishing the "Guardian Angel Rings" program by ANSA NSW in 1994. Angel Rings are life buoys installed at popular ocean rock fishing spots, on wharves, fishing platforms and along coastal bushwalking tracks. Those that can benefit from the Angel Rings include anglers, overseas tourists, children walking on the rocks, spearfishers and divers.

At the same time as providing public rescue equipment for saving lives it was recognised that education of fishers was also needed to limit the number of incidents were lives were put at risk. For a very long time ANSA have been at the forefront of educating anglers about conservation, sport, integrity and safety in fishing. Anglers drown on beaches, rocks, in rivers, bays and oceans unnecessarily ever year and a targeted awareness education capaign could see a reduction in the number of people losing their lives each year

Objectives

1. Establish a national Angel Rings pilot program covering all states where rockfishing fatalities are a significant concern
2. Identify potential sites for the pilot deployment of Angel Rings in those states
3. Obtain the necessary state/regional approvals for locating angel rings at these identified sites
4. Devolve management of Angel Rings and expansion of the program to state/local groups
5. Monitor and Report on the effectiveness of the Angel Rings program

Final report

ISBN: 9780-646-98533-6
Author: Stan Konstantaras
Final Report • 2018-07-09 • 1.45 MB
2011-404-DLD.pdf

Summary

Angel Rings are lifesaving buoys placed at popular rockfishing spots to aid rockfishers, tourists and the members of the public who slip or get washed in to the water. Angel rings are designed to keep them afloat until a rescue can be organised or as a buoyancy aid to assist them to get to a safer spot to exit the water.

The Australian National Sportfishing Association (ANSA) in partnership with the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation commenced a trial of "Angel Rings" around Australia

The Recreational Fishing Advisory Committee (RFAC) identified the national roll-out of the Angel Rings program as a key project as part of the Recreational Fishing Industry Development Strategy (RFIDS). There was unanimous agreement that the NSW project had a demonstrated track record in saving lives at various NSW coastal rock platform locations and should be expanded nationally where there was a risk of lives being lost.

States like Western Australia and Victoria where historically lives had been lost off coastal rock platforms were the ultimate target for Angel Rings and to a lesser extent South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland also qualified for the investigation of installing Angel Rings.

The FRDC National Angel Ring Project ("Project") set out to deliver a complete package of rock fishing safety equipment to all the State Branches of ANSA that had experienced rock fishing incidents and fatalities and as a way of updating the branches on current practices and alerting the branches to some of the rock fishing safety initiatives underway in the other states. Its secondary focus was a roll out of education material and messages into the community via the ANSA network.

The Project achieved some great inroads in establishing Angel Rings in some states like Western Australia and has led to relationships in other states that has seen ANSA share and develop rockfishing safety awareness and education campaigns in a cohesive and consistent matter.

The staggered nature that each state has progressed has ultimately meant that ANSA has been unable to deliver all the agreed milestones even though one of the biggest beneficiaries of Angel Rings, Western Australia has agreed to sign off and ultimately devolve the project and take over management of the Project in WA were it has been a great success. In all fairness to the other states WA was and continues to deal with the very same issues surrounding rock fishing safety that NSW has previously dealt with.

 Apart from the staggered nature of the roll-out one of the biggest impediments for ANSA has been the changes in the configuration of the GPS Tracker units from our supplier. The entire project was founded around the ability for the states and government agencies agreeing to install Angel Rings on the basis that remote access would also be provided from GPS trackers located and embedded within the Angel rings and could be checked remotely from a computer console anywhere in the world. This alleviated the need for physical checks.

ANSA had already committed to and had rings operational in WA with GPS trackers when it had to essentially shut the remote monitoring down due to the lack of suitability and availability of GPS trackers to continue the project. Thankfully WA had a very supporting Government that committed extra fund to assist in monitoring of the Angel Rings and Peak Body groups like RECFISH WEST, who were involved in working with ANSA had and extensive network of anglers all over WA who would handle the physical checking of the rings and handle replacing any missing ones.

ANSA acknowledges that this situation is not ideal or what has been agreed upon with FRDC but as the project has evolved this has been the best scenario we have been able to operate under. ANSA has been in discussion with FRDC to try and better understand how similar projects might be delivered, especially when dealing with volunteer organisations. The better understanding gained with this project could benefit how groups like ANSA operate into the future considering all of the time and effort is volunteer based.

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