Search for fisher at sea since Fri­day

Pilbara News - - News - An­gela Pow­nall and Ali­cia Per­era

The search for a Kar­ratha fish­er­man thought to have been miss­ing for four days was con­tin­u­ing at the time the Pil­bara News went to print on Mon­day af­ter­noon.

Nor­man Les­lie Bale, 52, of Mil­lars Well, launched his 3.6m alu­minium dinghy from Kar­ratha Back Beach about 5.30pm on Fri­day.

He was re­ported miss­ing by friend and work col­league Stu­art Bullen about 7.30pm on Sun­day.

Wit­nesses who saw him leave the boat ramp said he was wear­ing a T-shirt and shorts, had a bright or­ange esky on board and did not ap­pear to be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing is­sues with his motor or other equip­ment.

He is be­lieved to have gone out with­out safety equip­ment such as an EPIRB or a life jacket.

Mr Bullen alerted po­lice soon af­ter go­ing to his house to pick him up for work and notic­ing he had not re­turned from his fish­ing trip.

He said it was out-of-char­ac­ter be­hav­iour for Mr Bale as “he’s nor­mally re­ally con­sci­en­tious about work”.

A po­lice search on Mon­day was as­sisted by West Pil­bara Vol­un­teer Sea Search and Res­cue Group and Port Wal­cott Vol­un­teer Ma­rine Res­cue. Se­nior Sergeant Andy Stevens told a press con­fer­ence po­lice were fac­ing dif­fi­cul­ties be­cause of the “huge” search area cov­er­ing 94 square nau­ti­cal miles over wa­ter, land and in the air.

Con­di­tions on Mon­day had been clear for the search and po­lice were in­tend­ing to ex­pand the on-wa­ter ef­fort when tides rose later in the af­ter­noon, with as­sis­tance from the army.

Sen. Sgt Stevens said Mr Bale was an ex­pe­ri­enced fish­er­man who had lived in WA for six years and worked as a con­creter.

“We think he’s en­coun­tered some con­di­tions he wasn’t quite pre­pared for,” he said.

“We don’t think he had a full stock of emer­gency equip­ment and some in­ci­dent’s hap­pened that’s caused him to be de­layed.”

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