Dangerous rock fishing spots will be signposted with clearer warnings after a coroner found the deaths of three fishermen in Victoria were entirely preventable.


Two Chinese nationals and a Cambodian man drowned when they were swept off rocks while fishing in separate incidents in regional Victoria two years ago.

Coroner Heather Spooner said people from non-English speaking backgrounds needed to be better educated about the dangers of rock fishing.

Warning signs at known danger spots also needed to be understandable to people who did not speak English.

“The three deaths of rock fishers in 2009 were entirely preventable,” Ms Spooner said in her judgment handed down on Wednesday.

She said the fatalities highlighted the vulnerability of non-English speaking communities who were “grossly over represented in rock fisher fatalities”.

Shida Li, 33, of Box Hill, drowned when a freak wave swept him off the rocks at Cape Schanck National Park on Christmas Day 2009.

Lianwei Wang, 43, of Kew, died after he was engulfed by a wave while rock fishing at San Remo, near Phillip Island, on December 30, 2009.

And Cambodian man Theam Heng Chheng (Chheng), 41, of Springvale South, drowned when he was swept out to sea from the rocks also at San Remo in August that year.

Ms Spooner said all three men may have survived if they had been wearing life jackets.

A new safety management plan for rock fishing prepared by the coroner’s office calls for appropriate signage at rock fishing locations and an education program for culturally diverse communities about the sport’s dangers.

It says fishers should be encouraged where possible to wear life jackets.

Emergency alarms and cameras will be installed at the two San Remo locations where the men died under a pilot program by Life Saving Victoria and Surf Life Saving Australia.