Big Angry Fish takes to the water with lifejackets

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 44, August 2013

MNZ says the TV fishing show PlaceMakers Big Angry Fish is setting a new standard for promoting safe boating practices.
Big Angry Fish
Maritime New Zealand ©2020
The duo will wear lifejackets and model safe boating practices while they reel in the big fish.

The latest series is being sponsored by MNZ as it ramps up its campaign to get more boaties wearing lifejackets. The show’s hosts, world-class anglers Milan Radonich and Nathan O’Hearn, will be wearing inflatable lifejackets whenever they are on the water and will role-model other safe boating practices, such as checking the weather before setting out, having the skipper hand out lifejackets to those on board and taking care when crossing bars.

MNZ’s Education and Communications Manager, Pania Shingleton, said the show will help reinforce and normalise the idea of boaties wearing lifejackets. She issued a challenge to other media and entertainment outlets to promote safe boating practices and help save lives on the water.

“Our research shows that people who wear lifejackets on the water are much more likely to survive if something goes wrong,” she said. “Many of those who die in recreational boating accidents each year – mostly men aged 40 and over – could have been saved had they been wearing a lifejacket.”

Pania said the results of a survey following MNZ’s “Don’t be a clown – wear a lifejacket” safety campaign also show that the people least likely to wear lifejackets are those in powerboats between 4 and 6 metres.

She says MNZ is actively using the results of its research into attitudes and behaviour in the recreational boating sector to inform its safety campaigns, and Big Angry Fish fits naturally with those strategies. “It’s a celebration of the great outdoors, and really demonstrates how much fun two guys can have safely messing about in boats.”

“These are real Kiwi blokes, experts in boating and fishing, who also recognise the importance of wearing lifejackets,” Pania said.

Set in idyllic locations, including two episodes filmed in Thailand and Canada, the show reels in a wide audience. But Pania says its safety messages are targeted at a particular demographic. “We know there’s a group of men who resist the idea of wearing lifejackets because it goes against everything they think fishing stands for – freedom to do as they choose, being at one with nature, pitting themselves against the elements, and having fun... But wearing a lifejacket is proven to save lives and you can’t argue with that,” she said.

The research findings show that many people won’t wear lifejackets because they consider them either uncomfortable or uncool or both. But Pania says those excuses don’t hold water, with inflatable and hip-belt models of lifejacket like those worn on Big Angry Fish now widely available. “These are really versatile – small, light and compact,” she says. “They’re ideal for fishermen, because they aren’t bulky and don’t get in the way of what you’re doing.”

As well as sponsoring Big Angry Fish, MNZ is working with the National Pleasure Boat Safety Forum on a new 2013–14 summer advertising campaign and strategy, to keep pushing the need for boaties to wear lifejackets and keep safe on the water.

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