Life jacket plea after three fishermen die

AAP

The drowning deaths of three men in two separate rock fishing accidents in Western Australia's south has prompted the deputy state coroner to recommend fishermen wear life jackets.

The WA Coroners Court examined the deaths of Chinese-born men Chunjun Li, 42, and Jiaolong Zhang, 38, in April 2015, and former asylum seeker Ali Mohammad Soltani, 30, in April 2016.

Mr Li and Mr Zhang used rope to tie themselves to a rock while fishing at Salmon Holes in Torndirrup National Park when they were swept into the sea.

Mr Li washed towards the beach but bystanders could not revive him, while Mr Zhang's body was never recovered despite an extensive search.

Deputy State Coroner Evelyn Vicker said in her findings that the pair and their families had come to Australia to start new lives but it ended in tragedy.

"On behalf of all those who risk their lives and emotions in these tragic circumstances, please wear life jackets," she said.

"It may not always save your life but it will help return a better outcome to your families and the community as a whole."

Mr Soltani was fishing from rocks at Salmon Holes when his anchor rope broke and he fell into the water.

Police divers recovered his body the next day on the sea floor.

"The fact he surfaced and was seen to be swimming supports the contention that had he been wearing a life jacket ... he would have survived and probably rescued before he drowned," Ms Vicker said.

She said rock fishing was recognised as the most dangerous sport in Australia.

"Yet (it) is one where participants frequently take minimal precautions for their own safety and so rely heavily on emergency services and volunteers, often in treacherous conditions when something goes wrong," she said.

"None of those lost at the Salmon Holes over the years have been wearing life jackets."

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS:

- Rock fishermen wear life jackets subject to wave action and spray on the WA coast

- Rock fishermen carry a personal emergency positioning indicator rescue beacon

- A mobile phone tower and marine VHF repeater be installed on Eclipse Island

- Reliable communication plans utilising internationally approved frequencies for marine search and rescue operations

- Clarify regulation and management of drones for emergency search and rescue operations, and promote certification of competent pilots.