A fisherman has been plucked from a life raft after trying to fight a fire on his boat near Westport.

It is understood the fire started near the smokestack of the 8m boat with the man attempting to extinguish it before having to abandon the vessel.

The man initially tried to put the fire out which started near the smokestack of his 8m vessel.

The Rescue Coordination Centre received an alert from a distress beacon at 11am from a boat located 12 miles west of Cape Foulwind.

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RCCNZ watch leader Geoff Lunt said the Greymouth search and rescue helicopter was sent out and found the man in a life raft. They airlifted him to hospital for a medical check.

Lunt said the man had distress beacons on the boat and the life-raft.

"Because he had one on the life raft we were able to go out immediately and assist.

"The outcome could have been a lot different for him," Lunt said.

"It was a successful operation and we acted immediately. The satellite technology allows for alerts to be received within minutes of someone activating a distress beacon. The satellite detected the beacon at 11am this morning and RCCNZ received the alert at 11.06am."

Lunt said the man was not injured and had been discharged from hospital.

He stressed boaties should check their distress beacons were registered with the RCCNZ - which is free to do.

"The one on the boat was registered but the beacon on the life raft was not," Lunt said.

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"If a beacon is registered we can contact family members and find out more about the situation that might help the rescue."