The last purse seiner on Grand Manan, the Moon Raker I, sank early in the morning on June 2, after hitting Bull Rock. The rock is located about six miles southwest of Southwest Head, Grand Manan, about midway between Gannet Rock and Machias Seal Island, near the Murre Ledges. None of the crew were injured in the accident.
Along with the loss of the vessel and income for the captain and five-man crew, the sinking of the vessel will mean a loss of much of the lobster bait supply on Grand Manan.
"It's like losing a family member," says Wayne Green of Grand Manan, the captain of the 70-foot seiner, about its loss. "Not as bad, but close."
The crew had been seining that night on Northeast Bank, and the seiner was headed to Campobello to offload about 70 metric tons of herring when the accident occurred, says Green.
Three of the crew got in the life raft and three in the seiner's skiff, before the vessel sank. One crew member, Kevin Boynton, was thrown out of the skiff when it was launched, but other crew members hauled him into the life raft. The other members of the crew are Mason Ingersoll, Nicky Green, Dane Linton and Pat Cronk. After broadcasting a Mayday, they were picked up by Grant Linton, who fishes out of Seal Cove. The seiner now lies in 28 fathoms of water.
Green says he's still undecided whether he will have another seiner built. "I hope we do," he says. The seiner was worth over $2 million and was insured, but not for that much, he notes.
Green recalls that there used to be nine seiners on the island about 15 years ago. However, the herring quotas for each boat were cut, with each of the Grand Manan seiners only allowed to catch 600 metric tons a year. Green's company then bought up some quotas from vessels that had stopped fishing.
The seiner supplied the majority of lobster bait during the spring and fall fisheries on both Grand Manan and White Head islands. "I don't know what they'll do now," says Green. If he does have a new seiner built, it would not be ready to fish for at least another year. He notes that Connors Bros. will be able to supply some bait.
The Moon Raker I was built in Newfoundland in 2008 and owned by Mistress Fisheries Inc. Green had previously purse seined for 12 years using the Fundy Mistress, which had been fished before that by his father, Maurice.