Search for Mary’s Harbour fishermen enters 2nd day as N.L. communities hold vigils overnight –

According to Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre overseeing the search, the search has expanded to over 3,000 square nautical miles as of Sunday morning.

island lady

Marc Russell and a second crew member aboard the Island Lady. The pair was last heard from around 4:00 p.m. on Friday. (Submitted/Dwight Russell )

The search for two fishermen missing off Mary’s Harbour is continuing Sunday as residents come together to hope for a positive development.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) confirmed Sunday afternoon that the search has recovered additional debris — a second tub and some fishing buckets — which they believe is connected to the missing vessel, the Island Lady. A single blue fishing tub was reported earlier Sunday.

Although the debris is not definitively linked to the overdue vessel, JRCC Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens told CBC News it is likely connected and that the finds have refined the search area.

We are looking at [the] potential…[that] these individuals were in the water. But we’re continuing the search throughout the rest of the afternoon, into the evening,” Owens said.

The fishermen, Marc Russell and Joey Jenkins, were expected to land in Mary’s Harbour around 5:00 p.m. on Friday. Local fishing crews began the search that evening. The JRCC and the Canadian Coast Guard joined later Friday night after picking up radio chatter from the ongoing search, according to Owens.

The search has covered more than 3,000 square nautical miles and reached about 100 nautical miles off the coast, Owens said, adding that the debris found Sunday afternoon has guided the search closer to the shoreline.

Multiple aircraft and vessels from the Canadian Coast Guard, PAL Airlines and others are involved in the search. 

“The weather had a bit of an opening yesterday in which we were able to see a little bit more. So we’ve covered a significant of area, and gone over different areas as well a second and third time,” Owens said.

Owens said the provincial government and a significant number of local vessels have also aided in the search, which has greatly enhanced searching capabilities.

Several vessels were on the water Saturday evening after Dwight Russell, Marc Russell’s father, made a call to fishers in the area to aid in the search. 

Vigils held across N.L. Saturday night

While the search on the water was ongoing, several vigils were held in communities across southern Labrador and other parts of the province to pray for the fishers’ safe return.

“This horrific ordeal with those two missing boys…affected not just the families, it affected every community along our coast. Everyone is family,” Ida Powell, who organized a prayer service on the wharf in Charlottetown, said.

 “When I left there, I just felt at peace. I just felt that we needed to do something. And from the turnout that we had down there, it was evident that all of these people felt the same way.”

port hope simpson

Like many communities in Labrador, Port Hope Simpson held a vigil for the missing fishers on Saturday night. (Submitted/Vanessa Sampson)


Powell said many in the region are reeling over the weekend, as the families involved are so connected to the surrounding communities. 

The two minutes of silence she organized were held on the wharf in Charlottetown in front of Dwight Russell’s boat, the Miss McKenzie. Powell said Mary’s Harbour, St. Lewis, Port Hope Simpson, Red Bay, L’Anse-au-Loop, Cartwright and Happy Valley-Goose Bay followed suit with their own ceremonies.

“I was feeling God’s presence. That’s what I was feeling. I was feeling that my prayer to our holy father in heaven was in some way consoling thee families…it gave me hope,” she said.

“Everyone was on that wharf, and I’m willing to bet in these other communities that I mentioned, it was the same thing. That’s the close connection.”

vigil for mary s harbour search

People stand on the wharf in Charlottetown to pray for the safe return of the two missing fishers. (Submitted by Ida Powell)

Owens said the search will continue throughout Sunday evening, and said the JRCC is speaking with the next of kin to keep them aware of the situation. A decision on how to move forward for Monday will likely come Sunday night.

“We go until really there’s no other option…At this point in time, we can’t dismiss any possibility, and we need to continue on as a full search and rescue,” he said.

“We’re still crossing our fingers. But certainly time is ticking, hopefully we’ll be able to find some resolution.”

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