Water Safety NSW > Rock Fishing Safety

Rock Fishing Safety

Rock fishing is one of the most dangerous sports in Australia. The majority of rock fishing-related deaths in Australia occur in NSW, with an average of eight people losing their lives in NSW every year.

Above: In 2015, Greg Finney almost lost his life in a rock fishing accident.

Find out how to minimise the risks when you go rock fishing, including new laws that make wearing lifejackets compulsory in declared areas and finding the right one for you.

Lifejackets are compulsory in declared areas

Always wear a lifejacket.

It is compulsory for anyone who is rock fishing in a declared area to wear a lifejacket. This includes:

  • children;
  • adults helping other adults.

Minimise your risks

Make your rock fishing safer by:

  • Always wearing a life jacket;
  • Checking the Bureau of Meteorology’s marine forecasts and warnings before you go;
  • Plan an escape route in case you are washed in;
  • Never turn your back on the ocean;
  • Wear appropriate non-slip footwear and light clothing;
  • Never jump in if someone is washed into the water, call 000 or go and get help;
  • Never fish alone;
  • Observe first, fish later;
  • Inform others of your plans.

Recreational fishing licences

Whether you are fishing in fresh or saltwater, you are required by law to own a NSW Recreational Fishing Licence and always carry it when: 

  • spear fishing;
  • hand lining; 
  • hand gathering; 
  • trapping; 
  • bait collecting;
  • prawn netting and
  • when in possession of fishing gear in, on or adjacent to water.


SafeFishing has a range of brochures, videos and translated information on:

  • rock fishing;
  • freshwater fishing and 
  • fishing underwater. 
Wear a lifejacket - Don't Risk your life