North Queensland Fishing Information – Health And Safety
Deborah Mills

This is one of a series of articles prepared for Fishing Cairns by Dr Deborah Mills, author of the book, Travelling Well, and director of Dr Deb The Travel Doctor travel medicine clinics in Brisbane.

General Health And Safety – Enjoy good health while you are fishing

You spend a lot of time planning your fishing adventure so you don’t want illness or injury to spoil it. A few simple precautions will ensure your holiday is indeedall you wish it to be.

  • Accidents: Whilst rare, are the most dramatic problem that fisherpersons get while they are away.They have been shown to be much more common if you are tired, cold, hungry or boozed so its not just a luxury to look after yourself. The elements can be dangerous if you do not respect them.Lose your concentration and you may get hooks in your fingers, cuts, fall off rocks, end up overboard, or worse still let the big one get away!
  • First Aid Kits: Carry a decent medical kit of your own, or make sure you have access to one. This will ensure you can deal with minor problems fast so you don’t lose too much valuable fishing time.
  • Marine Toxins: Be aware of the local toxic fish, jellyfish, sea snakes and ciguatera risk. It makes sense to go with a local fishing charter company as they can give you the local advice on these sorts of hazards.
  • Dehydration: Keep your fluids up. Make sure you keep water handy so you can drink when you need to. If you wait until you are thristy, it will be too late. Drink fluids before you get thirsty.
  • Eat Well: You need to keep your strength up – the odd chocolate bar is OK but don’t fill up on rubbish. Fishing is an endurance sport so have a decent meal before you go. Pack some supplies to take with you including plenty of high protein food, and some simple carbohydrates.
  • Alcohol: Keep alcohol to a minimum until the fishing is over. You’ve heard of don’t drink and drive, well don’t drink and fish is just as important. Alcohol decreases your reaction time and makes accidents more common. Drinking onboard ships is very dangerous – look what happened to Natalie Wood!
  • Dress: Keep warm and make sure you are dressed appropriately for the conditions. Having a light waterproof jacket handy is essential, at the very least, and can be used to protect against wind, cooler evening temperatures on the way home in the boat, light showers, and spray.
  • Sunburn: ‘Slip Slop Slap’ is especially important for fisherpersons. Slip on a shirt, slop on some maximum protection sunscreen, and slap on a hat. Make sure it is a decent hat that actually gives your face protection, and not just a cap. Gloves without fingers in them will protect the backs of your hands, which are very prone to sunburn, during extended fishing trips.Lips and noses also take a hammering so use sunblock products designed for those areas so they don’t come off too fast. Needless to say, water resistant sunscreen is what you need. Ordinary T-shirts do not give enough protection in the sun, and you really should use shirts with sunprotection factors of at least SPF60+ when fishing up north.
  • Glare: Wearing sunglasses is most important during the day. Prolonged exposure to the sun can damage the back of your eyes over the years (cataracts, perygiums, etc), and if you can’t see, your fishing career will take a nasty nosedive.
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