Five recreational sea anglers were drowned in the UK in 2008, all fishing from the shore and none were wearing lifejackets.
That is the stark report from the Coastguards who are campaigning in 2009 to get more anglers into lifejackets and safely out of the sea if they slip into it.
Their research reveals fewer than 2.5 per cent of shore anglers don any kind of buoyancy aid when they fish from the shore. Half the recreational sea angling in the country is from the shore, including harbours and from piers.
“There are some large gaps in individual awareness of how vital a lifejacket is in those few short seconds when, through a slip or accident, an angler can fall into the sea,” said Richard Jackson of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) research and planning team.
The Angling Trust fully endorses the coastguard campaign and Stuart McPherson, chairman of its marine committee believes lifejackets are as essential for anglers as rods and reels.
He said: "Every angler on the shore or in a boat, should always wear the slim fitting type which instantly inflates if you fall in. It does not get in the way while fishing but tucked away in a cabin or locked in the car boot, it is useless.
Anglers on a breakwater in the north east of England were washed off their feet recently by a freak wave. “Only the quick reaction of one saved another from slipping into the water,” Mr. McPherson, said. “Had his reactions been less speedy a lifejacket would have come into its own."
The MCA said that cold, shock and hypothermia are the real killers and warned: “Without a lifejacket your chances of survival are significantly diminished. When things go wrong there's seldom, if ever, time to get out a lifejacket and put it on properly.”
Sea angler deaths last year were down from 11 in 2007 which was the highest for more than six years.