Local awarded NSW Maritime Medal
MAN of the sea Robert Toyer cannot count just how many radio distress calls he's intercepted over his 45 years on the open ocean.
But the experienced Yamba fishermen can detail wave by wave every daring rescue he's ever performed.
Thirteen of these acts of bravery earned the Vietnam veteran one of the very first NSW Maritime Medals.
Recognition of his courageous acts came four years ago and since that time many more rescues have followed. As a medal recipient, Mr Toyer's feats have again been mentioned by the NSW Government.
Pointing to his example, NSW Maritime has reminded the public nominations for the 2010 decorations close later today.
“The medals are a great thing. For me personally it was welcomed recognition of the situations I've put myself, my crew and my vessel in to assist others who need help at sea, and it's something most commercial fishermen do naturally,” Mr Toyer said.
“The commercial fishing fleet really is a safety net for any seafarer who gets into strife. If people know someone out there who's worthy of the Maritime Medal they should nominate them as a means of recognition, and a show of the safety that exists off our coastline.”
On countless occasions, Mr Toyer has dragged in his nets and motored off to provide assistance to broken down, capsized and stranded vessels. He once travelled more than 96 kilometres to recover a disabled fishing vessel.
On another rescue, his 110-tonne fishing trawler, the Trader Horn, was considerably damaged in extreme seas. The vessel went over on its side. Its stabiliser was bent, a hatch cover was lost and the engine and fish room flooded. In all, the crew were at sea for 24 hours and spent another two days repairing the trawler.
With the likes of Robert Toyer in mind, NSW residents can nominate a local hero for the NSW Maritime Medal at www.maritime.nsw.gov.au/wh/medal.html before 5pm.