One fisherman has died and three other crewmembers were rescued from the water around noon Thursday when a fishing vessel overturned while hauling crab pots off the west coast of the province.
Two of the survivors and the body of the deceased person were located near the boat when a Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) patrol vessel came upon the overturned vessel about noon off the community of Little Port, near Lark Harbour and Corner Brook.
The other crewmember was located about half an hour later, about 1.5 miles from the vessel clinging to two empty jerry cans.
Maj. Martell Thompson of the Joint Task Force Atlantic in Halifax said that crewmember was located just in time as hypothermia was starting to set in.
The cold water combined with him hanging on to the jerry cans being tossed about in the sea was wearing him down.
“It could have been worse,” Thompson said. “Our hearts go out to the family, friends and crewmembers of the deceased.”
Members of the DFO patrol vessel’s quick action rescued the first two survivors and retrieved the body, while other vessels in the area, including those of the Canadian Coast Guard auxiliary, were dispatched to help in the search for the missing man.
A Cormorant helicopter was also dispatched from Gander, and other search and rescue aircraft from Greenwood, N.S.
“We discovered from the first two survivors in the water there was another missing survivor at sea,” Thompson said.
The massive search and rescue effort began with the third survivor being located about half an hour later after drifting in the current.
Preliminary information indicates one of the crab pots became stuck on the ocean bottom and attempts to free it caused the vessel to capsize. However, an investigation into the cause of the incident will be held.
The three survivors were placed aboard an awaiting ambulance in Little Port and transported to hospital for treatment.
It’s the second tragedy in the province’s fishing industry in the last week or so.
Bonavista fisherman Pleman Strickland, 42, died late last week while the vessel he was on was fishing off the province’s east coast.
The boat was 175 miles offshore when Strickland got caught in a fishing net and was pulled overboard.