Issue addressed: Recreational fishing, particularly rock fishing, can be dangerous; 30 fatalities were recorded in Western Australia from 2002-2014. This study investigates differences in behaviours and attitudes towards safety among fishers at a fishing fatality 'black spot' in Australia.
Methods: A total of 236 fishers were surveyed at Salmon Holes, Western Australia in 2015. Fishers were grouped by country of origin and significant differences among groups for behaviours and attitudes towards personal safety were identified.
Results: Of fishers surveyed, 53% were born in Asia. These fishers self-assessed as poorer swimmers (F = 23.27, P <0.001), yet were more likely to have fished from rocks (chi(2) = 20.94, P <0.001). They were less likely to go close to the water to get a snagged line (chi(2) = 15.44, P <0.001) or to drink alcohol while fishing (chi(2) = 8.63, P <0.001), and were more likely to agree that they would drown if swept into the sea (chi(2) = 9.49, P <0.001). Although most respondents agreed that wearing a life jacket made fishing safer, 78% ` never' wore a life jacket while fishing.
Conclusions: Some fishers who were poor swimmers and were aware of the dangers of rock fishing still choose to fish from rocks.
So what? Our results support the proposal that the wearing of life jackets should be promoted, if not made mandatory, while water safety education campaigns should be continued and target vulnerable communities.