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Christmas day drowning prompts message from CEO

Keep yourself safe in and around water this summer. Photo: File.

The tragic drowning of a crab fisherman on Christmas Day has prompted an urgent message from Surf Life Saving northern region chief executive officer Matt Williams.

"Be ready and prepared when visiting and enjoying the beach this summer," he says. "Recreational activities like crab and rock fishing are high-risk and the consequences can be fatal."

Matt says rockfishing continues to be a standout cause of drowning with the latest crab fisherman fatality in Northland being unfortunate news on a day of celebration and joy.

"My sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of the recently deceased fisherman," he says.

"This isn’t an easy thing to experience, especially during the festive season."

The fisherman went missing from the rocks at Uretiti Beach in Bream Bay Northland, a location that Matt says is a popular crabbing spot, an activity classified as one of the highest for at-risk drowning.

Lifeguards from Ruakaka Surf Life Saving Patrol and Waipu Cove Surf Life Saving Club were alerted to assist the troubled fisherman and launched a comprehensive water search with Northland Rescue Helicopter. The body of the missing male was found and recovered from the water.

Matt says it has been business as usual for lifeguards this Christmas day with thousands of people visiting patrolled beaches. "Northern region lifeguards have been busy managing a range of incidents in different locations working tirelessly to keep the public safe," he says. "Other major incidents include lifeguards at Whangarei Heads assisting a patient experiencing chest pains in a nearby bach and Pakiri lifeguards briefly closing the beach due to the presence of Orca whales.

"In Auckland, Orewa lifeguards closed the beach after confirmed sightings of a two-metre shark in the water. At Long Bay lifeguards launched a land-based search for a missing person who was later located."

Matt says the incidents and activity at the beach are a prompt for the public to stick to key beach safety messages. "If you’re rock fishing the most important thing to remember is to wear a lifejacket at all times. If you’re going out swimming choose a lifeguarded beach and stay in between the flags. It’s these decisions that will help keep you and your family safe these holidays," he says.

"We encourage all beach-goers to visit the Safeswim website to check the conditions prior to visiting the beach this summer. This is where you can find live information about water quality and swimming conditions at your favourite beach spots. Lifeguard patrol times and activity are also available via Safeswim," he says.

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