File photo: NSRI

Cape Town - West Coast fishermen have rallied to help the family of a 45-year-old fellow fisherman from Yzerfontein who drowned after his vessel capsized on Sunday far offshore north of St Helena Bay.

Skipper Glen Jansen said he had been part of the co-ordination of the rescue after nine boats needed assistance after reporting fuel starvation miles offshore. 

He said the fisherman was a crew member of the vessel Normandie that experienced engine trouble and ran out of fuel.

“These vessels were catching snoek and needed to go out miles to where the fishing was, but ran out of petrol, and with the full-moon spring and strong winds, were taken out even further. 

"The Normandie, while being towed back to shore nosedived, taking on water, and capsized due to the catch on board and rough waters,” said Jansen.

He said the fishermen came out to fish far along the West Coast as the season for snoek had opened and the competition was fierce, resulting in many fisherman going out further as the fish moved.

West Coast fishing community representative Ferdi Fransman said smaller-scale fishermen were pushed to take more risks due to a small fishing window.

“The lives of fishermen have been compared to that of miners by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana, yet even after meeting with him in September last year, very little was being done to help small-scale fishermen.

“We spoke about the establishing of a fund to help the families of fishermen who give their lives trying to earn a living on the seas, but once again it’s our communities that must come together to assist one of our own,” said Fransman.

Police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said a post-mortem would be conducted to determine the cause of death.

National Sea Rescue Institute spokesperson Craig Lambinon said a search began after the Normandie capsized north of St Helena Bay.

He said the vessel seemed to be under tow by a fellow fishing trawler but taking water from being heavily laden with fish in rough sea conditions and strong winds with eight crew on board.

“The crew of the Normandie were immediately rescued from the water by the NSRI and transferred onto the fishing trawler that had been towing the Normandie, and they were not injured.

"One fisherman was seen on the Normandie as she capsized.

"Police divers scuba-dived under the boat, and during the search, the body of the missing fisherman was located and recovered,” according to Lambinon.

Anyone willing to donate can call Fransman on 073 909 0128 or Jansen on 062 024 0371.

Cape Times