ANGLERS have been warned they are risking their lives by going fishing from a breakwater built to protect a Northumberland town from the ravages of the sea.
A group of fishermen were escorted back ashore by a lifeboat crew this week after they were spotted on the massive sea defence structure in the middle of Newbiggin Bay.
The three local men had got onto the breakwater in a small inflatable dinghy and were seen fishing by a passer-by, who raised the alarm with the coastguard.
The Newbiggin-by-the-Sea inshore lifeboat was launched and crew members advised the anglers that they were in danger and should not be on the structure.
The trio made their own way back ashore in their dinghy, where they were spoken to and given advice by coastguard personnel.
Yesterday Richard Martin, RNLI press officer at Newbiggin, said the risks involved meant that no-one should go onto the 200 metre-long breakwater, which was built in the bay four years ago as part of a £10m maritime engineering project.
He said: “The message we are sending out is that people should not go onto the offshore reef at any time, irrespective of the weather or sea conditions, because it is simply too dangerous.
“The breakwater is constructed from large concrete blocks that are quite slippy and have gaps between them to dissipate the force of the waves. Anyone on there could quite easily fall into one of these gaps and get trapped with the tide coming in, or simply slip off into the sea.
“If they fell on the seaward side, and were alone, they would not even be seen from the shore.”
There are no signs warning anglers and others not to go onto the breakwater, which was built in 2007 and has the iconic offshore Couple sculpture at one end of it.
Mr Martin said it was possible to wade onto the structure at low tide, but incidents of people doing so were rare so far.
“We had a few people getting on last summer, during the school holidays, but we want to get the message out and nip things in the bud before an accident happens.
“We have got a fantastic beach at Newbiggin where people can fish at minimal risk, without going out on the breakwater.
“It is on lovely summer nights like these when people can get lulled into a false sense of security and relax a bit about safety. I would urge anyone who is thinking about venturing onto the reef to stay away. There are many hazards, not least moving blocks that weigh several tonnes each and surfaces that are very slippery.”