Search Continuing Wednesday for Missing Fishers Off Nova Scotia Coast, One Body Found

December 16, 2020 Updated: December 16, 2020

HILLSBURN, N.S.—The search for five missing scallop fishers continued Wednesday morning, more than 24 hours after their boat sank off the coast of southwestern Nova Scotia in rough, heaving seas.

Search and rescue officials said the body of one fisher from the dragger Chief William Saulis was found late Tuesday night.

Lt.−Cmdr. Brian Owens of the search and rescue co−ordination centre in Halifax said the boat went down off Delaps Cove, N.S., northeast of Digby.

He said seas were two to three metres high with strong winds when the vessel sank, and poor weather also hampered search efforts throughout Tuesday.

Debris was spotted after 8 a.m. Tuesday, and two empty life−rafts from the vessel washed ashore in Hillsburn, N.S., a village of about 250 people.

Owens said early Wednesday that the search will continue until the missing people are found.

Officials said three aircraft were in the air most of the night, a CP−140 Aurora, a CC−130 Hercules and a Cormorant helicopter. Three Canadian Coast Guard vessels are also taking part.

The RCMP is overseeing the shoreline searches, and Cpl. Mike Carter confirmed Wednesday that searchers had found more debris, including some clothing and rescue gear.

Locals say the tide was much higher than average on Monday night, which made the stormy conditions and waves on the bay Tuesday more dangerous.

As volunteer searchers assembled at the church on Wednesday morning, school buses crawled through the village, picking up bundled−up children.

“This whole community centres around the fishing industry,” Rev. Bob Elliott, the pastor of Hillsburn United Baptist Church said in an interview on Tuesday.

The village’s brightly coloured Christmas decorations displayed a strongly maritime theme, in contrast to the low clouds and slate grey seas of the Bay of Fundy. One home that backs onto the bay features a tall Christmas tree made from colourful buoys. A few doors down, a replica lighthouse was festooned with lights.

Elliott noted the tragedies that have come one after another in Nova Scotia this year.

“I believe that COVID−19 and the 22 who were killed earlier in this province (in the April mass shooting) has taught us that family and loved ones are more important than anything else we have,” he said.

“We will get through this. We’re Maritimers. We’ve been through a lot in the years past,” he said.

“But we haven’t been through that alone. We’ve always come together as a community. And I pray that somehow people will use these tragic situations … and prioritize what is good in their life.”