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Missing fishermen: £20k raised for families

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image captionTributes and candlelit vigils have been held in Brixham

More than £20,000 has been raised for the families of three crew from a fishing trawler which sank off Sussex, as tributes are paid to two men still missing.

One man was found clinging to a buoy after their vessel sank on Saturday, sparking a rescue effort from Seaford.

Two other men were not found and the search was called off on Sunday.

Vigils have been held for the missing men, named locally as Adam Harper and Robert Morley.

A close friend of Mr Morley, fisherman Peter Broun said it was heartbreaking.

"I've known the family 30-odd years," he said. "I was only speaking to Rob the other day and he was telling me he was going to get out of the fishing industry."

He said the weather had been atrocious, adding: "In my mind, they shouldn't have been out there."

Rescue 'bittersweet'

Lifeboat crews have described how skipper Dave Bickerstaff was found holding on to a lifebuoy after spending up to two and a half hours in the water.

Eastbourne lifeboat coxwain Mark Sawyer said it was "an absolute miracle" he survived.

Andrew Bull, from the Newhaven lifeboat, said: "I know when I helped to support him on the boat I could feel how cold he was even though the blankets."

Nick Gentry, Newhaven lifeboat navigator, said being able to rescue Mr Bickerstaff was "bittersweet".

He said: "Still very much in the back of your mind, there's the feeling that there's two people not yet accounted for and you can't help but worry for them and their family and friends."

The men have not been formally identified by Sussex Police.

image copyrightMartin Johns/Fishing News
image captionThe Joanna C sank three miles off the coast at Seaford

The 45ft scalloping vessel, named Joanna C, was registered in Brixham.

In the Devon town, fisherman Richard Fowler said the community believed the incident was a tragic accident.

"It's upsetting for the fishermen themselves, because everyone knows they are close to that every day," he said.

"Everyone tries their hardest to not let it happen. Safety standards are going up and up and up all the time, but accidents still continue to happen. That's the nature of the job."

South Devon MP Anthony Mangnall said: "The loss of two crew members is a heavy reminder of the risks that our brave fishermen take."

image captionRichard Fowler said the incident had upset Brixham's fishing community

At the scene

Rebecca Ricks, BBC Plymouth journalist

On the quayside, some fishermen say it's too soon to talk about the sinking of the Joanna C, at a time when the industry is already suffering the effects of the pandemic.

Covid-19 may be here but it hasn't stopped the community coming together to support the families of the missing men.

Well-wishers have been laying flowers and lighting candles at Brixham's Man and Boy memorial.

It's been said before, but fishing is one of the most dangerous peace-time occupations in the country. I'm told this only serves as a stark reminder.

Two GoFundMe pages have received donations from more than 1,000 people.

Helen Lovell, from the Fishermen's Mission, said the fishing port had been "pulling together" since the search was called off.

Brixham councillor Vic Ellery said the pain was "awful", adding: "We all feel it."

image captionTributes have been left at the Man and Boy statue in Brixham

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch said it had begun a full safety investigation.

A spokesman said it would "co-operate with other stakeholders in the investigation, and a report of the investigation will be published in due course".

Related Topics

  • Brixham
  • Newhaven
  • RNLI

More on this story

  • Missing fishermen: Search off Sussex coast ends

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