Cobscook Bay sinkings spur safety meeting

Posted April 05, 2010, at 8:31 p.m.

LUBEC, Maine — The Maine Department of Marine Resources will hold a meeting to discuss possible changes in regulations governing Cobscook Bay.

The meeting is being organized after three fishing vessels sank and five men drowned near Falls Island in the past 12 months.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, at the Lubec American Legion Hall on Route 189.

Lt. Alan Talbot of the DMR said the meeting is not to announce any new regulations, but rather to listen to what the fishermen have to say.

“The topics are just points of discussion. They are just ideas,” he said. “Some families of the lost fishermen feel that something should be done.”

Seven men have died in Cobscook Bay since December 2008. Five of them were aboard two fishing vessels that sank near Falls Island. A fourth vessel sank in the same area last fall but the fishermen aboard were rescued.

Topics for discussion and proposals for possible regulatory requirements will include:

• Mandatory wearing of some form of personal flotation device while fishing in portions of Cobscook Bay.

• Closure of the Falls Island area.

• Mandatory fishing vessel safety inspection.

• Mandatory fishing equipment inspection.

• Mandatory EPIRBS, or emergency positioning indicating radio beacon signal, which uses satellites to track the EPIRBS location.

• Fishing with another fishing vessel while in portions of the bay.

• Towing low while in certain parts of the bay.

Talbot said fishermen and municipal leaders are invited to attend the forum, which is jointly hosted by the Marine Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Commercial Fishing Safety Council.

“We are not coming in with any hard conclusions,” Talbot said. “But we have to look at the history. Were these three [sinkings] just accidents? Our hope is to prevent further accidents.”

In March 2009, the fishing vessel All American went down quickly in Cobscook Bay, killing the captain, Loren Lank, 53, of Lubec, and deckhand Logan Preston, 19, of Roque Bluffs. Lank’s body was recovered immediately. Preston’s remains were recovered in January 2010 and identified through DNA testing.

On Oct. 20, 2009, the Bottom Basher, a 34-foot urchin dragger out of Lubec, sank with three fishermen on board near where the All American was lost. Searchers found the body of Daryl Cline, 41, of Machiasport the day after the sinking and recovered the remains of Norman Johnson, 57, of Cutler in December. The boat’s owner, Joseph Jones, 29, of Trescott, remains missing.

In late January of this year, the Miss Priss fishing vessel sank in the same area. Three fishermen on board were saved by the crew on a nearby fishing vessel, Nasty Too, who heard the distress call.

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