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When you're heading out for a fish, you don't expect to end up in the water - but there's always a chance that the unexpected will happen. Regardless of where you're fishing, be mindful of the Water Safety Code and check out some top tips for fishing from the shoreline, the river or from a boat, below:

1Be prepared

Learn to swim and survive and set rules for safe play in the water. Always use safe and correct equipment. Know the weather and water conditions before you get in.

Always check your surroundings and the conditions before entering the water. Check for potential dangers, and make sure you are confident in your ability to swim in the area around you, especially if the conditions or weather was to change. Floatation devices and lifejackets should be used for activities on the water, especially on childeren and for anyone who is not strong or confident in the water.

Find out more about taking swimming lessons from Water Safety New Zealand.

2Watch out for yourself and others

Always pay close attention to children you are supervising in or near water. Swim with others and in areas where lifeguards are present.

Be aware of those around you in the water. If anyone is showing signs of distress, if they seem to be under for too long or if you lose sight of friends or family while recreating in or around water, it is important to check on them to make sure they are ok. Likewise, remain aware of your own swimming capability and the area or conditions that you're swimming in. Have fun, but always remain alert and don't push yourself beyond your own level of comfort.

3Be aware of the dangers

Enter shallow and unknown water feet first and obey all safety signs and warning flags. Do not enter the water after drinking alcohol.

Recreating in and around lakes, rivers the ocean and even in swiming pools can have it's dangers. Additional to your swimming capability and your physical state, you must be mindful of the dangers at each area of water you are recreating in or on, as these can change unexpectedly. 

You should always be mindful of dangers, including:

4Know your limits

Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience. Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger. 

Even strong swimmers can be caught out by the dangers in water environments such as rips, waves and unexpected changes in the depth or shallowness of water. Enjoy water recreation within your limits, and don't feel pressured to swim or recreate in or around water if you are uncomfortable, or are concerned about potential dangers. Have fun, but always behave responsibly by respecting the water, your limits and the limits of others. 

When considering your limits, think about:

 

More top tips for safer fishing:

  • Wear the right clothing: It is important to wear clothing that is suitable if you were to unexpectedly fall into the water - heavy or baggy clothing, denim and large items such as heavy jackets will weigh you down if you accidently fall into the water. Consider clothing that is lightweight, easy to swim in, and not restrictive of your movements. Consider wearing a life jacket near particularly dangerous areas, especially if you are on a boat, and always keep children away from danger and in life jackets.
  • Mention your intentions: If you are going fishing alone, make sure you mention your intentions(external link) to a loved one by using the outdoor intentions form as a guide for the information that you should provide to a trusted contact, so that search and rescue can locate you if you don't return home when expected. Key information includes the area where you are fishing and when you expect to return home. 
  • Be prepared in case you fall in: Fishing by the water carries with it the potential to fall or be swept in by moving currents or large waves. Make sure you follow the Water Safety Code(external link) and understand the dangers of the specific environment that you are fishing in, such as the often unexpectedly strong currents in some rivers or potentially large waves that could sweep over rocks by the ocean.

Know the law

Activities

Fishing on-shore, rock fishing and wading

Fishing by the water carries with it the potential to fall or be swept in by moving currents or large waves. Make sure you follow the Water Safety Code and understand the dangers of the specific environment that you are fishing in, such as the often unexpectedly strong currents in some rivers or potentially large waves that could sweep over rocks by the ocean. Make sure you understand the basics of staying afloat in the water by contacting Water Safety New Zealand.

Key contacts for on-shore, rock fishing and wading:

  • Fish and Game New Zealand - regional and legal information about fishing in New Zealand including fishing licences, regional by-laws, visitor permits and backcountry fishing.
  • New Zealand Sport Fishing - fishing regulations, sustainability information and events. 
  • Water Safety New Zealand - key information about water safety and rock fishing safety advice.
  • New Zealand Underwater Association - if you intend to go snorkelling or diving to fish, get training through the New Zealand Underwater Association and find out best practice and understand the laws when diving.
  • Surf Life Saving - provides a national lifeguard service on selected beaches on behalf of central and regional government.

As well as following the Boating Safety Code and being prepared in case you fall in the water by following the Water Safety Code, it's important to remember that all boats craft must adhere to boating rules and regional by-laws. Always check the marine weather before you go, too. Follow the important links to the left to find out more. 

Key contacts for boat fishing:

  • Fish and Game New Zealand - regional and legal information about fishing in New Zealand including fishing licences, regional by-laws and visitor permits.
  • New Zealand Sport Fishing - fishing regulations, sustainability informaion and events.
  • Water Safety New Zealand - key information about water safety and rock fishing safety advice.
  • Coastguard Boating Education - provides in person and online courses and education relating to the safe operation of boating craft in New Zealand's waters.
  • Coastguard New Zealand - provides practical safety assistance on the water, including offering boat towing-services, resources and helpful on-water mobile apps.
  • Maritime New Zealand - regulates the rules around commercial and public boating and provides practical resources relating to activities on New Zealand's waters and the law.