Always wear a lifejacket and carry a means of calling for help and keep it within reach. If it can’t be reached in an emergency, it’s no help.

More than a million people in the UK and Ireland enjoy angling - either from a boat or from the shore. While angling might not seem like a particularly dangerous coastal sport, RNLI lifeboats were launched 661 times to anglers in 2015.


The majority of angling fatalities were those fishing from areas of exposed shoreline. Many of these people might have been saved if they had been wearing a lifejacket and had taken a means of calling for help.

Colm Plunkett was fishing with his daughter when a rogue wave washed him into the sea. He credits his lifejacket for keeping him alive, and wants to encourage other anglers to wear a lifejacket.

What can I do?

However you choose to enjoy angling, wearing a lifejacket and taking an appropriate means of calling for help will keep you afloat and ensure the rescue services can get to you quickly. Below is more information on the different means of calling for help.

Which is the appropriate means of calling for help for you?

Personal locator beacon (PLB)

Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): A PLB can send a distress message to the Coastguard from anywhere in the world, providing there is a clear view of the sky. The message and your location will be relayed to the Coastguard, which will launch the appropriate rescue service to your GPS position. A PLB can be used anywhere on the land as well as the sea so could be used as safety kit for other outdoor pursuits.

Mobile phone

Mobile phone: As a minimum, always take a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof pouch when angling on a boat or on the shore. If you get into trouble dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard. Be aware that many areas of coast do not have mobile phone signal so an alternative means of calling for help may be better.

Waterproof handheld VHF

Waterproof Handheld Digital selective calling (DSC) VHF: A waterproof handheld DSC VHF is a really effective way to call for help. It allows you to send a distress message with your location direct to the Coastguard with a single button push. You then follow this with a voice call on channel 16, which is broadcast to all VHF radios in the area.