Safety campaigners urge rock fishers to take caution as beaches start to fill up

As the weather heats up rock fishers are heading to their local beaches hoping to pull in a feed.

But all too often though they're the ones who end up being pulled out of the water.

Now safety campaigners are hoping to change that with a new drowning prevention programme.

It's tricky terrain to traverse at Bethells Beach, and when the super swells wash in it can be deadly - especially for those casting a rod.

"Rock fishers need to be well-planned, well-prepared, on both coasts but especially the west coast environment," says Surf Life Saving Northern operations manager James Lea.

In 11 years, seven people have died rock fishing on west Auckland beaches. But the number of times when people have found themselves in trouble is much higher. They're often ill-informed, underprepared or, in some cases, on the booze.

"Alcohol, rock fishing, or any water-related activity do not mix well at all," Lea says.

On Tuesday, Auckland Council's park rangers, surf lifesavers, and their 'rock fishing advisors' are at work. Rangers and advisors don't often dive in for rescues but they're receiving training is in case they need to.

"Like to feel confident if we did have to go in the water and even the basics, you know, with the ring and the rope, we know the procedure if we were out on the water," Auckland park ranger Kim Morris says.

It's not just rock fishermen these rescuers are looking out for this summer. There is an increasing trend of people on walking tracks deviating off the tracks to explore the coastline and getting into trouble around the rocks.

"People need to be mindful of the environment they are walking around, what the tide is doing because people are getting caught out around the rocks," Lea says.

Officials here are pleading with people to plan for the conditions. Lifejackets are the biggest help when stuck but they have to fit properly.

"Whatever is lying around they will think 'oh yeah this is a good life jacket' and it's probably been sitting around for 10 years and unfortunately it won't provide adequate floatation," says Harry Aonga, from Drowning Prevention Auckland.

Another summer safety message and our beaches start to fill up. These trained rescuers are ready with new skills hoping they won't be forced to use them.