Local rock fishermen have welcomed Kempsey Shire Council's decision to opt out of the Rock Fishing Safety initiative program.
Council decided to not participate in the program which would have seen the Kempsey Shire declared an area where life jackets are mandatory in accordance with the Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016.
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Secretary treasurer of the Seabreeze Fishing Club South West Rocks, Peter Askew, said the rock fishermen in the club welcome council's decision.
"The overall consensus is they all support council's decision. Wearing life jackets while rock fishing can be more of an impediment than offering protection and safety," he said.
"If people can't swim, they shouldn't be anywhere near the water and definitely shouldn't be rock fishing."
There are around 20 local rock fishermen in the Seabreeze Fishing Club, all with extensive experience with rock fishing and the dangers involved.
Club member Damien Ashley said a life jacket could pose a risk to his safety while fishing.
"My rock fishing involves lots of technical climbing where a jacket, even deflated, would be a dangerous liability," he said.
"If I go in, which I have on numerous occasions, I simply dive under oncoming waves until a suitable opportunity arises to get out. If the ocean is too boisterous, I don't fish."
Mr Askew agreed and said a life jacket in the water and in close proximity to rocks can be dangerous.
"If you did get swept off, there can be more damage from wearing a life jacket because it prevents you from diving under the waves and you can get swept back against the rocks," he said.
Kempsey council debated the issue at the February meeting and carried a recommendation at the March council meeting last week to opt out of the Rock Fishing Safety initiative program.
"I'm friends with most of the local rock fishos and we agree that life jackets are great things for boat users but pretty useless around the rocks," Mr Ashley said.
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