At least four fishing boats that were stuck on a sandbar in Tabusintac for about five hours on Monday afternoon have now been freed up and are slowly making their way back to Wishart's Wharf.

The incident comes just nine days after three lobster fishermen were killed when their boat hit a sandbar and capsized in rough seas near the small northeastern community.

In light of the recent tragedy, Monday's events had everyone scared, said Kevin Kelly, who was on one of the stranded boats.

"There was a couple boats that got stuck and then everybody was just waiting outside and running their props and some boats were on the tide, and one of my uncle there hit the ground and the water came in the boat and it wasn't even rough, so it's a pretty bad place," he said.

Fellow fishermen told CBC News they had warned the provincial government such a tragedy might happen.


Fishermen in Tabusintac say they previously warned the provincial government the channel was too shallow. (CBC)

They contend the channel they use to get into the wharf is too shallow and should have been dredged.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada began dredging in the area, at McEachern's Point, on Monday, according to a spokesman.

Dredging will continue, weather permitting, until complete, he said. It's unclear when that will be.

'Insanely narrow'

One of the fishermen who got stranded on Monday described the stretch of water, known as the gully, as "insanely narrow."

The propellers of his boat got broken, he told Radio-Canada reporter Ricky Landry.

The boat was touching the ocean floor, in just three feet of water, he said.

In addition to the four boats that were grounded, another 15 were delayed by the low tide, according to the fisherman.

The Canadian Coast Guard did not receive any requests for assistance, a spokesperson said.

The RCMP say the incident is not a police matter.

One of the fishermen killed on May 18, Ian Benoit, 35, of Tabusintac, had voiced concerns about the channel to the government earlier this spring, according to his father-in-law Aldoria Holmes.

Benoit drowned, along with his crewmates Samuel-René Boutin, 23, of Saumarez, and Alfred Rousselle, 32, of Brantville.

Susceptible to sedimentation

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is looking into the matter.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada officials say the geographic location and tidal currents of McEachern's Point naturally encourage sedimentation.

The access channel has shifted 250 metres south from its position last year, spokeswoman Krista Petersen stated in an email to CBC News.

The federal department started working with fishermen on a plan to dredge the channel since last fall, Peterson said.

As soon as the ice melted, crews conducted sounding surveys on April 22 and May 7 "to determine the best way forward," she said.

The department then sought and received a permit from Environment Canada for the dredging and proceeded with the tendering process.

Earlier this month, a massive fire burned five fishermen's boats at the Tabusintac wharf.