Lifejacket message not getting through to Muriwai fishermen

Lifejacket message not getting through to Muriwai fishermen

3 News has obtained pictures showing the desperate lengths some fishermen are going to at a rocky outcrop on Auckland's west coast.

The rocks at Muriwai Beach are a favourite for fishers trying their luck, and authorities are once again warning people about the dangers there, and other beaches.

Kelly Langendoen has been fishing off the rocks at Muriwai Beach every weekend for nearly five years. If there's one thing he's learned, it's to stay away at high tide.

"Oh I have been before," he says, "but when the water's washing up there, I just turn around."

But the high tide doesn't discourage everyone. Pictures taken this week show three men fully kitted up, with no lifejackets in sight. The force of one wave knocks one of the men off his feet.

"Once they're in the water, they're in trouble," says Muriwai volunteer lifeguard Tim Jago. "Those rocks are unforgiving – very, very difficult to scramble back onto. Most of them are weighed down by what they're wearing."

It's a scene Mr Jago is all too familiar with. He says the number of rescues of fisherman from the rocks is second only to beachgoers caught in rips.

Like many other rock-fishing platforms, this one at Muriwai has plenty of warning signs, and a safety ring.

Local lifeguards come there at least two times a day to warn anglers about the dangers of fishing off the rocks. And while they don't have the power to physically remove them when it's dangerous, they do use the power of persuasion.

"If we really believe that the situation is becoming quite risky, we'll go and talk to them and suggest that maybe it's time to go," says Mr Jago. "Of course, most of them are fairly resistant at that stage; they think they're on the cusp of catching the big one."

Figures show in 2006 just 4 percent of rock fishers wore lifejackets. While that increased to 40 percent last summer, authorities still want compliance to be much higher.

The advice is to wear a lifejacket, sensible footwear, no gumboots and keep loved ones in the loop with where you're going.

3 News