The fishing trawler, Dianne, which capsized north of Bundaberg yesterday.
The fishing trawler, Dianne, which capsized north of Bundaberg yesterday. Queensland Police Service

Search for missing trawler fishermen scaled back

THE search for the four men still missing from the commercial fishing vessel Dianne, which sunk 14 days ago, has today been scaled back.

Last week, police divers finished clearing the wreckage of the trawler after it overturned off the town of Seventeen Seventy on October 16.

Very early in the search, police said the tender from the sunken vessel was located. 

"The tender was located upturned in the water in the search area out to sea. We confirmed it was the tender from the vessel at that time, however, we were unable to recover it at that time due to sea conditions, and it was left there," Inspector Darren Somerville said last week.

With the tender possessed by police, the search continued on, with one fixed wing aircraft, three volunteer marine rescue vessels, the LARC and police in ATVs involved.

On October 20, four days after the tragedy took place, experts advised the "window of survivability" of the missing men had "passed".

At that time, the search and rescue mission was transitioned into a recovery mission.

This advice had been passed on to the family of the six men.

Last week, 30-year-old Adam Hoffman and 45-year-old Ben Leahy, two of the fishermen who were aboard the Dianne, were located inside the vessel by police divers.

"It's a very large search area. Unfortunately we still have no idea where (the other men) are," Insp Somerville said.

Throughout the search, police consulted other agencies about potentially "raising" the vessel in case the missing fishermen were underneath.

Insp Somerville said that effort would involve "professional salvage people".

"Arrangements are currently being made with a number of agencies in relation to the recovery of the vessel, however this will take some time."

Despite search efforts being scaled back, police said they will continue water, shoreline and inlet patrols daily.

"Details are still being broadcast to all vessels in the area and crews are being asked to report any debris or information to police," a QPS release stated.

"Police are working hard to ensure the families of Adam Bidner, Zachary Feeney, Chris Sammut, Eli Tonks, Adam Hoffman and Ben Leahy can get some measure of closure."

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