Fisherman drowns after fall on remote island

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 September, 2009, 12:00am

A 59-year-old man drowned while rock fishing on a remote island off Sai Kung yesterday, the district's seventh drowning since April.

The man, surnamed Tsang, set out with three friends early yesterday morning to fish along the shore on Basalt Island. At around 8am, he fell into the water.

One friend dived into the sea while the other two attracted the attention of a passing fishing boat and were spotted in the water by crew members. By this stage they had drifted 200 metres from the shore.

'We spotted two of them waving for help so we moved our boat closer to their location,' one of the crew members working on the fishing boat said. 'We lifted the two men in the water into our boat and took them to the shore.'

The victim was taken by Government Flying Service to Eastern Hospital, where he was certified dead at about 9.45am.

Chan Wing-pang, who works at a fishing tackle store in Tsuen Wan and has been an angler for eight years, said rock fishing required life jackets and special footwear.

'The rocks can be very slippery, as seaweed grows on the surface. That is why special shoes are needed. It is very difficult to tell if a big wave is coming and life jackets are very important in case you fall into the water,' Chan said.

'But the life jacket does not guarantee 100 per cent safety. If a person falls into water, he might knock his head on a big rock. That is very dangerous, as the person can't yell for help.'

Rock fishing spread to Hong Kong from Japan, Chan said. It has become popular across the regions and involves many of the same techniques as fly-fishing.

He warned people who wanted to go rock fishing that they should stand together instead of being scattered around a rocky shoreline.

'People who go rock fishing often ignore all these little details. They simply neglect safety,' he said.

Six other cases of drowning have been reported in Sai Kung in the past five months.

All of them were associated with pleasure-boat incidents, four of them occurring since the start of July.