Search suspended for missing fisher off coast of Nova Scotia

The search for a missing fisher who had been aboard a boat that capsized and sank off the west coast of Cape Breton was suspended indefinitely on Sunday night, hours after a First Nation reported that two of the vessel's crew members had died.

The decision to suspend the operation was made "based on the results of the search over the last 25 hours," a tweet from the Halifax Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre reads.

Based on the results of the search over the last 25 hours, the search for the missing person has been suspended. Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and community.

— HfxJRCC_CCCOS (@hfxjrcc) April 4, 2021

Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax says rescuers received a distress call from the FV Tyhawk at about 5:45 p.m. Saturday. Crews were able to locate the vessel after learning it was sinking, but lost the signal when the boat capsized.

A helicopter and military plane were dispatched to the scene and four people were rescued by a local vessel and taken to Emergency Health Services in Cheticamp, N.S.

“We ran into some obstacles through the weather. Freezing spray and freezing rain had moved into the region late last night around midnight, which prevented our aircraft from flying and also forced some of our marine assets to return to port. That left us with just a large asset, the coast guard ship Cape Roger, on the scene,” said Mark Gould, Regional Supervisor Maritime Search and Rescue, Canadian Coast Guard, Atlantic region.

The boat was based in Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick. Elsipogtog Band Councillor Ruth Levi says the community is grieving.

"It's very sad," said Levi. "The community's very somber. We lost two community members -- well we consider one a community member."

Levi says one of the deceased was a member of the Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq First Nation in New Brunswick, but had close ties to Elsipogtog.

"He has a family here, a wife, and kids," said Levi. "It's a tragedy right now."

She adds that just two or three hours before, and unrelated to the fishing boat incident, the community lost an elder, adding to their heartbreak.

Elsipogtog First Nation Band Councillor Ruth Levi as she interviewed over video chat with CTV News on Sunday evening. She says the loss is devastating for her community.

N.B. Premier Blaine Higgs shared his sympathies on Twitter, writing “We ask New Brunswickers to join together to show the Elsipogtog community our support during this difficult time.”

On this holiday weekend, it is with profound sadness that Marcia and I join the Elsipogtog First Nation in their sorrow of the passing of two members of the community in the FV Tyhawk sinking off the coast of Nova Scotia.

— Blaine Higgs (@premierbhiggs) April 4, 2021

This is a developing story. It will be updated as more information becomes available.