Massive sea and air search operation for missing Cork fisherman being hampered by deteriorating weather conditions
A MASSIVE air and sea search operation for a lobster fisherman who failed to return to port in Cork faces a race against time with weather conditions set to deteriorate.
The tight-knit fishing industry in west Cork was devastated at the failure to find the missing fisherman, named locally as Kodie Healy (24) from Goleen, despite a major air-sea search operation over two days.
An operation by the Coast Guard, RNLI, Naval Service and West Cork coastal groups will continue today with the focus again on the Dunmanus Bay area between Castletownbere and Schull.
Wreckage found on the southern shore of Dunmanus Bay is believed to be from the seven metre boat being used by the young man.
The vessel had been wrecked and was in pieces.
The alarm was raised by Mr Healy's father, who is also a fisherman, when his son failed to arrive back in port around 6pm on Wednesday evening as scheduled.
A major search operation by the Coast Guard, RNLI and Naval Service was launched in an area of Dunmanus Bay.
The Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 led the search which was being assisted by two RNLI lifeboats from Castletownbere and Baltimore and the Naval Service patrol ship, LE William Butler Yeats.
A number of fishing vessels were also supporting the search effort for the missing man.
The Healy family are very highly respected within the fishing industry in west Cork with local boat owners immediately offered their support to the search mission.
When the alarm was raised on Wednesday evening, the Castletownbere RNLI lifeboat was at sea on its weekly training exercise under the command of Deputy Coxswain Dave Fenton and immediately proceeded to Dunmanus Bay.
The operation is focused on an area of Dunmanus Bay where the fisherman is believed to have been tending to lobster pots.
He was the only person on the small craft which put to sea on Wednesday morning.
Search officials believe the wreckage of the craft may have drifted a distance from where the boat actually wrecked.
Weather conditions in the area are understood to be quite difficult and made ongoing search efforts very challenging.
Wind conditions eased today but are expected to deteriorate again along with sea conditions over the next 24 hours, potentially hampering search efforts.
A shoreline search is being conducted in tandem with the air-sea search effort.
Gardai have urge the public to stay away from the area as they may be putting themselves at risk.
Speaking at Bantry Garda Station, Superintendent Declan O Sullivan said: "On behalf of all of the agencies involved in this search operation, I would ask for members of the public not to put their lives at risk by taking to the water around the search area, or by walking around the shoreline and cliff edges, in an attempt to assist us.
"We understand that your assistance is well-intentioned, but you are putting yourself at risk in poor weather conditions.
"Some of the larger, well equipped local fishing vessels have been assisting us with our operation and we wish to thank them for their efforts thus far. Emergency services will indicate what assistance the public could provide if necessary."