Tonight, there are concerns for 13 fisherman from Copperbank village in the Corozal District - who are believed to be missing at sea. But, at this hour, there is more confusion and uncertainty, than there is reliable information - both in their home village and with the coast guard. The Coast Guard launched its own patrol from Calabash Caye and activated its partners like the Audubon Society and TASA, along with the BDF Airwing to comb the entire Turneffe area - but the searches have not turned up anything.

Reports from the village say Funciano Copo's boat left from the village 10 days ago with 13 fishermen on board, all relatives. From there the stories go in all different directions - but it boils down to one thing: the men are feared to be unaccounted for at sea - because the most they would usually take on the sea is 8 days. So, the fact is their whereabouts are unknown and they should have already returned.

But where they might be and their present status is complete unknown. A Coast Gaurdsman today told us he feels like they are looking for a ghost ship because there is no reliable information which points to where they might have last been seen on boat, or on land.

We'll keep following this story and are hoping for the best.

Channel 7


Copper Bank Fishermen Missing at Sea, Massive Search Effort Underway

A massive search and rescue effort to locate a seagoing vessel carrying ten fishermen onboard is underway in the waters of the Turneffe Atoll.  It is reported that Nayadi set out to sea fourteen days ago from the village of Copper Bank in the Corozal District and neither the fishing boat nor its crew has been seen or heard from.  It is likely that the men may have faced severe weather conditions out at sea, as it has been raining heavily since Sunday of last week.  This morning, family members contacted the Belize Audubon Society seeking assistance in finding Captain Fonsiano Copo and his workers.  While the organization quickly put together a team of rangers to scour the area, they were joined by B.D.F. and coastguard elements.  The operation which also saw a BDF helicopter deployed into the area has been fruitless, but efforts are ongoing.  News Five spoke with Shane Young, Marine Protected Areas Manager with the Belize Audubon Society.

Shane Young, Marine Protected Areas Manager, BAS

“At this juncture we received a phone call, we at Belize Audubon Society received a phone call at about ten this morning from family members inquiring about the whereabouts of a fishing vessel Nayadi and ten fishermen onboard the vessel.  We understand the last location was Lighthouse Reef Atoll that the vessel was seen.  The Belize Audubon Society, along with the Belize Coast Guard deployed a search in the area of Lighthouse Reef Atoll.  It was a four to five hour search and it came back empty handed.  The vessel was not seen in that location.  Based on that information, the search continued in the Turneffe, with the Belize Coast Guard and our sister agent, the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association.  They continue their search as we speak in that location.”

Isani Cayetano

“Have you gotten any information as to perhaps who the captain of the vessel was and that sort of thing?”

Shane Young

“We do have that information; we understand that the captain is one Fonsiano Copo, along with his nine crew.  The name of the vessel is Nayadi.”

Isani Cayetano

“Do you know where the vessel is from or where these individuals are from?”

Shane Young

“These individuals are from Copper Bank.  They reside in Copper Bank and fish at Turneffe and Lighthouse Reef.”

Isani Cayetano

“My understanding sir is that this may have taken course over the past fourteen days or so.  The obvious question is why did it take so long?  Perhaps it’s not a question for you to answer, but it’s an open question.  Why did it take so long for anyone to report their family members missing or this particular vessel unaccounted for?”

Shane Young

“I’m not so sure, but looking at the dynamics of the fishing, these guys would go out for more than ten days at a time, recognizing also that we had bad weather, we had rain for a couple days.  So that might have extended their trip beyond the regular ten days.”

Isani Cayetano

“When you look at the geographical area being covered in terms of this search, can you give us an idea of how wide the radius is?”

Shane Young

“Yeah, in terms of the distance between here to the Lighthouse Reef Atoll is about sixty miles.”

Channel 5