A man in his 40s and a nine-year-old boy have drowned at a popular rock fishing spot at Little Bay in Sydney’s southeast yesterday afternoon.
Emergency services were called to Little Bay just after 3:00 pm on Monday following reports that a man and a boy had been swept off the rocks while fishing. Paramedics performed CPR but both died at the scene after the man was pulled to the water by local surf lifesavers and the boy was winched by a rescue helicopter back to shore.
Lifesavers said the man may have entered the water to try to rescue the child, while it remains unclear if the pair were rock fishing at the time.
The incident took place at the southern end of Little Bay, with surf lifesavers having responded to 18 emergencies at the location in the last three years. The man and the boy are yet to be formally identified.
The Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command has established a crime scene while an investigation has been commenced into the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Randwick Council said that the fishing spots on the north and south ledges of Little Bay are “well-known, but sometimes dangerous”. From June 2018, those rock fishing on Randwick beaches without wearing a lifejacket were subject to a $100 on-the-spot fine under the Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016, which was introduced to legislate safe practices for anyone participating in rock fishing.
According to Randwick Council, there have been 18 recorded rock fishing fatalities in the Randwick area in recent years. It is not known if the man and the boy were wearing lifejackets.
Under its ‘Safety tips’, Randwick advises people who are rock fishing to “not jump in if someone is washed into the water”, recommending the use of a rope or a floatation device instead, and calling emergency services for assistance.
According to the 2016 Surf Life Saving NSW Coastal Safety Report, the majority of rock fishing-related deaths in Australia occur in NSW, with an average of eight people losing their lives rock fishing every year.