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Byron Shire
April 16, 2021

Man rescued from rock wall at Ballina

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Ballina Jet Boat Rescue Service was used during the rescue of a man at north wall last night. Photo Surf Life Saving NSW
Ballina Jet Boat Rescue Service was used during the rescue of a man at north wall last night. Photo Surf Life Saving NSW

A 43-year-old man was rescued last night after falling down the rocks at North Wall at Ballina.

The man suffered serious spinal injuries, cuts and abrasions in the fall.

With an incoming tide on the way, police activated the Far North Coast Surf Life Saving’s emergency response system around 8.15pm.

Surf lifesaving personnel, including the Ballina Jet Boat Rescue and police, attended and helped paramedics to stabilise the patient.

The man was extracted with the assistance of the State Emergency Service.

The 43-year-old was taken to Lismore Base Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

Leading cause of drownings

Meanwhile, a new report says rock fishing deaths in NSW is now for the first time the leading cause of all coastal drownings in NSW.

Overall coastal drowning figures for the state however are significantly down from last year.

Eight people died while rock fishing in the 2013-14 year in NSW and 27 rock-fishing deaths have been recorded since 2011-12. None of the victims were wearing a lifejacket.

These alarming statistics, revealed in the Surf Life Saving National Coastal Safety Report 2014, put rock fishing ahead of swimming/wading which accounted for 23.3 per cent of total drownings last year in NSW.

For the first time, the crude population rate of drowning related to rock fishing is higher than swimming and wading.

Further analysis of participation figures shows that you are over three times more likely to die rock fishing compared to any other coastal activity, such as swimming or surfing.

Surf Life Saving NSW says these statistics reinforce the importance of prevention strategies they have piloted to reduce rock-fishing related drownings, including targeted education programs with ethnic and other at-risk communities and expanding a state-wide Dangerous Surf Warning system in partnership with the Bureau of Meteorology and recreational fishing groups.

Surf Life Saving NSW is also strengthening its stance on mandating the wearing of lifejackets while rock fishing, in light of the latest figures detailed in the report.

‘Rock fishing is one of Australia’s most dangerous sporting pastimes and we have been struggling to address the drowning problem for some years,’ said SLSNSW Lifesaving Manager, Andy Kent.

‘Rock fishing fatalities also have a huge impact on our frontline volunteers, who are called on to respond to these distressing incidents with increasing regularity,’ Mr Kent said.

‘When we successfully rescue someone who has been swept into the sea it’s almost inevitably because they are wearing a lifejacket. Unfortunately these good news stories are few and far between,’ he said.

In total there were 30 coastal drowning deaths recorded in 2013-14, compared to 46 in 2012-13.

Rock fishing safety messages

  • Stay alert to the weather and ocean conditions
  • Always wear a life jacket
  • Wear appropriate non-slip footwear and light clothing
  • Always fish with a friend
  • Never turn your back on the ocean
  • Do not jump in if someone is washed in – wait for assistance
  • Call Triple Zero – Police to report an in-water emergency


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