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Preliminary evaluation of the impact of mandatory life jacket laws at declared high-risk rock platforms on unintentional rock fishing drowning deaths
  1. Amy E Peden1,2,
  2. Shane Daw3,
  3. Jasmin C Lawes2,3
  1. 1 School of Population Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of New South Wales, Kensington, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 UNSW Beach Safety Research Group, Kensington, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3 Surf Life Saving Australia, Bondi Beach, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Mr Shane Daw, Coastal Safety, Surf Life Saving Australia, Bondi Beach, New South Wales, Australia; sdaw{at}


Objectives To explore the impact of mandatory lifejacket wear legislation on unintentional rock fishing-related drowning fatalities at declared high-risk rock platforms in New South Wales (NSW; Australia).

Methods Rock fishing-related drownings for the five years pre-legislation enactment (23 November 2011 to 22 November 2016) and five years post-legislation enactment (23 November 2016 to 22 November 2021) were compared. Google Earth was used to assess if drowning deaths occurred at declared areas under legislation. Binary logistic regression was used to analyse change in the number of deaths in declared areas pre-legislation/post-legislation.

Results Over the 10 years, 80 rock fishing drowning deaths occurred in New South Wales; 23 in declared areas pre-legislation and 13 post-legislation (−43.5%). The odds of a rock fishing drowning death occurring in a declared area pre-legislation was 2.3 times higher (95% CI 0.942 to 5.752; p=0.067).

Conclusion Reductions in rock fishing deaths at declared areas were observed since the legislation’s introduction, but were not significant. Greater enforcement and extension to other high-risk platforms may reduce deaths further.

  • Drowning
  • Enforcement
  • Policy
  • Legislation
  • Behavior
  • Risk Factor Research

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  • Twitter @amyepeden, @Dr_Jaz_Lawes

  • Contributors AEP and JCL conceptualised the study. JCL performed data curation, collection and validation. AEP conducted analysis. JCL created the data visualisation. AEP wrote the draft manuscript. JCL and SD provided critical revision. All authors approve the submitted manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.