Search for crew member overboard from fishing vessel in Hawke's Bay

1:09 pm on 2 April 2024
A fishing boat sits in the Hokianga Harbour

File photo. Photo: Cole Eastham-Farrelly

A search and rescue operation has been ramped up for a crew member who fell off a commercial fishing vessel in the Hawke's Bay.

The man was reported overboard at about 8pm on Monday and a mayday was issued, prompting other vessels in the area to join in the search.

Police said the fishing vessel was 11km offshore from Waimārama.

Maritime NZ's rescue coordination centre was coordinating the multi-agency search and rescue operation which involved rescue helicopters from Auckland, Gisborne and Hastings and the New Zealand Defence Force.

The Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter joined the search late on Monday but was unsuccessful and has returned back to base on Tuesday.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopter was assisting with the search.

Hawke's Bay deputy harbour master Adrian Wright told Morning Report the commercial vessel, which is local to the area, had been undergoing its usual operations when the crew member went missing.

"The sea conditions [at the time] weren't actually that bad. It was just one of those situations where something really unfortunate happened," Wright said.

"The visibility was also fairly good, so responders on the scene were able to have pretty good visibility last night into today."

FlightRadar24 shows two search and rescue helicopters off Waimārama.

FlightRadar24 shows two search and rescue helicopters off Waimārama. Photo: Screenshot / FlightRadar24

It was not clear how the man fell overboard or whether he was wearing a life jacket but the rest of the crew had a "pretty good time window" of when the individual went missing, said Wright.

"Essentially when someone falls overboard, what you want to do is try and find the most probable position and use a variety of different forms of information such as wind speed, weather, sea state, where the person is alleged to have fallen overboard, the time, distance," he said.

"So you make a few calculations [and] start the search area based on that."

Meanwhile, a Hawke's Bay Marine Club is advising other boaties in the area to leave the search operation to officials.

Five New Zealand Defence Force personnel on a helicopter have joined the search.

Clifton Marine Club president Paul Hursthouse said protocol for boaties was to usually help, but given the size of the vessel its best to keep away.

He said his thoughts were with the whānau of the missing person.