The father of one of the five men missing off the south shore of Nova Scotia says he is losing hope his son will be found alive after the fishing boat he was on ran into trouble late Sunday night.

"I don't have any hope right now," George Hopkins told CBC News. His son, 27-year-old Joel Hopkins, is the father of two young children.

"I'm a fisherman myself, so I realize what's going on. I would think they would have found him by now. Every hour the chances are less."

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Joel Hopkins, 27, was on the Miss Ally before it capsized. (Facebook)

The crew of the swordfish and halibut boat left Cape Sable Island on Feb. 12 to go fishing.

Six days later they ran into trouble. The 13.5-metre boat called the Miss Ally went missing about 120 kilometres southeast of Liverpool.

Lieut. Peter Ryan at the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax said the boat's emergency beacon went off Sunday night. It was picked up by the JRCC at 11:06 p.m. AT.

 "Weather conditions at the time were extremely poor, with seas reported between eight and 10 metres, zero visibility and blowing snow, with up to hurricane-force winds," he said Monday.

The U.S. Coast Guard flew over the area and spotted what it thought was a life raft. It said its plane dropped a locator buoy near the life-raft to help officials plot a search area in the high seas.

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The Miss Ally

Two Canadian coast guard vessels are also on the scene.

"The vessels were dispatched as quickly as possible," Ryan said.

A cousin of one of the missing crew members told CBC News the young men, all in their early to mid 20s, are all good friends who have been fishing since they were teenagers.

The boat is run by the company Papa's Pride, which is based in Woods Harbour.

The warden of the Municipality of Barrington, where Woods Harbour is located, said the community of 7,000 is waiting anxiously for any news from searchers.

The community held a prayer vigil for Monday night.

with files from the Canadian Press