Fears for Kiwi father onboard missing fishing trawler off Australian coast

Douglas Hunt, partner Tracey Lee and family.
Supplied/Brisbane Times

Douglas Hunt, partner Tracey Lee and family.

A Kiwi father is onboard a fishing trawler that has disappeared off the Australian coast. 

Queensland police have scaled back the search for the prawn boat 'Night Raider' suspected to have gone missing in waters off Hervey Bay. 

It hasn't been seen and there has been no contact from the crew for a fortnight.

Douglas Hunt was onboard the prawn trawler Night Raider.

Douglas Hunt was onboard the prawn trawler Night Raider.

Onboard was 38-year-old New Zealander Doug Hunt, who is originally from Tokoroa, and two other men - a 60-year-old experienced skipper, a 24-year-old crewman.

Queensland police said the boat departed Urangan, near Fraser Island north of Brisbane, on November 11 and travelled east through Breaksea Spit before communications ceased the following morning.

It did not make it's scheduled stop on Sunshine Coast on November 18, although this was "not deemed out of character by those known to the crew members", police said. 

But Seven News reported family of the skipper had had no contact with him and expected him home by now.

Hunt's partner Tracey Lee told the Fraser Coast Chronicle that the father of six had taken on the job to save extra money for Christmas presents. 

"He's a dedicated family man... he's really strong and safety conscious...we can't lose him," Lee said.

Lee last saw Hunt when he left the family home in Port Macquarie for Hervey Bay on November 9.

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"I said I love you and we appreciate what you're doing for the family and to be safe," she told the Queensland newspaper. 

Lee contacted the company Hunt worked for on November 20 to ask what was happening and was told they were out of range and had not made contact.

She received a call from Hervey Bay Water Police on Friday November 25 - when the search began.

"Doug is my soul mate and father of our three beautiful children as well as father to my additional three children who he adores," Tracey said.

"We have family, friends and church groups now praying for their safe return," she said.

"I ask that you please prayer and contact every church member and organisation that you know to join us," she said.

Hunt's sister Delwyn Hunt posted an emotional plea on social media. 

"All these tears are for you Douglas.. All my memories of us growing up just keep coming please be somewhere safe.. Dad loves you we all want you back. You had your life on track and were doing well. If you are gone bro you will be with mum xx love you."

Hervey Bay Water Police said in a statement on Monday that helicopters, police and Volunteer Marine Rescue vessels, and patrols of shoreline and inlets had been undertaken since Friday.

"The search area has encompassed thousands of square nautical miles, and at times involved multiple helicopters and vessels. Yesterday [Sunday] a helicopter searched from the Gold Coast to Noosa."

Broadcasts through the marine radio network to raise the missing trawler would continue, police said.

While the search had now been scaled back police will continue shoreline patrols. 

Anyone with information should contact Crimestoppers via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au.

The trawler Night Raider left port at Urangan in Hervey Bay on November 11 around 9.45pm. 




 - Stuff

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