New Brunswick

Crew rescued as lobster boat sinks off Escuminac

A lobster fishing boat carrying four men and at least 100 lobster traps capsized and sank off Escuminac Wharf on Tuesday morning.

No one was injured, but more than 100 lobster traps lost off eastern New Brunswick

A lobster boat sank a few miles from Escuminac Wharf on Tuesday on the first day of lobster season in Area 23. (www.escuminacwharf.com)

A lobster fishing boat carrying four men and at least 100 lobster traps capsized and sank off Escuminac Wharf on Tuesday morning.

O'Neil Hebert, owner of the Trina Margaret, said no one was injured. He and the three other men were in the water for about 10 minutes before other boats picked them up.

I know one of them, he almost drowned because I guess it was almost his last breath there. He couldn't hold on no more by the time he was picked up.- Ligouri Turbide, fire chief

The men went to the hospital to be checked out.

"At least we didn't lose [anybody] on the crew," Hebert said.

A lobster boat at the wharf in Tignish, P.E.I. (Submitted by Susan Rodgers)

Tuesday was the first day of the lobster season for Area 23.

Robert Martin, Port Authority of Escuminac manager, said boats went out to set traps at 6 a.m. Some boats received the Trina Margaret's distress signal at around 6:10 a.m.

Martin said no one knows yet what caused the boat to sink.

"The stern was in the water, so he turned to try to go to shore but he didn't make it and the boat just turned upside down," Martin said.

The sinking boat was about half a mile to a mile away from shore and about four to five miles from Escuminac Wharf, Martin said.

"The boat got filled up with water some way, I don't know if it's a motor problem or what, not a clue," Hebert said.

Looking for cause

Shannon Pittman, regional investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said the board is looking into the incident.

"Our prime objective is to discover what happened in each of the marine incidents and then once we understand what happened, determine if there's anything we can learn from here to improve overall safety in the marine industry," he said.

Pittman said that after the incident is assessed, the board will decide whether to launch a full investigation. Some investigations can take up to a year before a final report is released.

'Life goes on'

As of Tuesday afternoon, the boat was still in the water, but Martin said divers were preparing to try to get it out and maybe retrieve some traps.

Baie-Sainte-Anne Fire Department chief Ligouri Turbide wasn't part of the emergency response but said crews from the fire department, RCMP, ambulance and coast guard were on scene.

"Something didn't go right for sure," Turbide said. "I know one of them, he almost drowned because I guess it was almost his last breath there. He couldn't hold on no more by the time he was picked up."

Hebert said half his traps were on the boat, but he will be taking the other half, renting a boat and going out again this week.

"Life goes on," he said. "We're alive so we'll probably move on with it, start fishing again."