OHS Canada Magazine

Search called off for Nova Scotia fisherman, RCMP to take over as missing person case

Avatar photo

December 28, 2022
By The Canadian Press

Health & Safety fatal accident fishing safety nova scotia

Photo: iStock/Getty Images Plus

By Sarah Smellie

The search for a missing Nova Scotia fisherman who went overboard on Boxing Day morning was suspended early Tuesday afternoon.

Lt. Commander Len Hickey said that despite a robust search effort that carried on overnight Monday and into Tuesday morning, rescue crews were unable to locate the missing man. The file will be handed over to the RCMP to be treated as a missing person case, he said.

“The time of year just makes it that much more tragic,” Hickey said in an interview.

Halifax’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre received a mayday about a man overboard at 8:21 a.m. Monday, he said. The man had fallen from a 12-metre long fishing vessel called The Little Weasel Too about 11 kilometres south of Cape Sable Island, which sits just off Nova Scotia’s southernmost tip, Hickey said.

There were two other people on the boat when the man fell over.


Local fishing boats joined search

A Cormorant helicopter and a Hercules aircraft were dispatched to search for the man alongside two Canadian Coast Guard ships, the Cape Roger and Clarks Harbour.

At least a dozen other vessels, including local fishing boats, also pitched in to help, Hickey said.

A plane from PAL Airlines flew in to help the CCGS Cape Roger keep up the search overnight. By Tuesday morning, both coast guard ships were back in the area, as was the Hercules.

“They do have a pattern where their search expands based on sea and wind,” Hickey said. “It’s a substantial search, and it grows based on the environmentals.”

Fisherman presumed drowned: RCMP

RCMP Sgt. Andrew Joyce said the fisherman is presumed drowned. The police will now help Nova Scotia’s Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration investigate what happened, but the RCMP will not continue the large-scale search efforts undertaken by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, he said.

“Our role here is somewhat limited. We’re really assisting in a workplace incident now,” Joyce said in an interview.

Porch lights on

As crews searched for the man in the dark nighttime waters of the Atlantic, residents in the area left their porch lights on and lit candles in his honour.

“It’s a tradition,” said Eddie Nickerson, warden with the Municipality of Barrington, which includes Cape Sable Island. “It shows the way home, when you see a light.”

Police did not release the identity of the missing fisherman.

“It’s a tragic event, for sure,” Joyce said.


Stories continue below