by Penny Robins
The Evans Head Fishing Classic kicks off this week at the Evans Head RSL. Running from July 8 - 15 it is expected to draw large crowds with daily winners, 21 nightly draws and amazing prizes.
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NSW Maritime North Coast Regional Manager Jim Green today reminded North Coast recreational boaters – and especially those who intend to participate in the Evans Head Fishing Classic – to check the weather before heading out.
Mr Green said, especially following recent wild weather, it was crucial that skippers also were careful when considering crossing coastal bars or heading offshore.
'The Evans Head Fishing Classic, which runs from July 8 to 15, attracts hundreds of competitors and is one of the biggest fishing competitions in Australian waters,' Mr Green said.
'NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers will be at the safety briefing this afternoon at 4pm.
'Maritime will also have safety patrols in the area for the duration of the competition, on the river, offshore and at boat ramps to support safe and responsible boating.'
On the North Coast in July last year, two vessels capsized while attempting to cross the Evans Head coastal bar, and there was a fatality after a vessel carrying four passengers capsized on the Ballina bar while attempting to return from an offshore fishing trip.
Mr Green said it was the skipper’s responsibility for the safety of their vessel and all on board.
'Every skipper should check the weather before going offshore. This is particularly important this weekend with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting dangerous surf conditions to develop from the far south and up to about Coffs Harbour during Saturday and then extend to the Queensland border on Sunday and persist until early next week at least,' Mr Green said.
NSW Maritime advises everyone fishing offshore to wear a buoyancy vest or life jacket, and reminds all boaters that:
· every person on board must wear a life jacket when crossing a bar;
· anyone boating offshore on their own and in a boat less than 4.8 metres must wear a life jacket; and
· everyone must wear a life jacket at times of heightened risk, such as in rough weather, at night or if they can't swim.
NSW Maritime website