A fundraising effort through a GoFundMe page online and the Maine Coastal Fishermen’s Association seeks to help the families of four fishermen lost when the Maine-based groundfish trawler Emmy Rose sank suddenly in the early morning of Nov. 23.

Captain Robert Blethen Jr of Georgetown, Maine; Jeff Matthews of Portland, Maine; Ethan Ward, of Pownal, Maine; and Mike Porper, of Gloucester, Mass. and Peaks Island, Maine; were heading to Gloucester to deliver their catch after about five days at sea.

At around 1:30 a.m. on Monday watchstanders at the Coast Guard First District command center in Boston were notified the Emmy Rose’s emergency position indicating radio beacon had activated, sending out its automated distress signal. They contacted vessel owner Rink Varian of Phippsburg, Maine, who then reported there was no answer when he called the boat’s satellite phone, according to Coast Guard officials.

A helicopter from the Coast Guard air station on Cape Cod and the cutter Vigorous headed for the last known position of the Emmy Rose 20 miles northeast of Provincetown, Mass.

But searchers found only an empty life raft, the floating EPIRB and debris. Searching over more than 2,000 square miles turned up no trace of the crew and the search was suspended as darkness fell late Tuesday afternoon.

In Portland Wednesday, Matthew’s daughter Reyann Matthews organized an evening candlelight vigil at the Maine State Pier for her father and the crew, with about 100 people attending there and at the Portland Fish Pier where candles were placed at the fishermen’s memorial, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The GoFundMe page, set up by the Varian family, opens with a video slideshow of photos showing crew members working on the boat and at home with their families, and an appeal to help them: “The crew on the F/V Emmy Rose were honorable men. All were extremely passionate about the fishing industry, but most importantly, they loved and cared for their families more than anything in the world. Robert, Jeff, Ethan, and Mike would rest in peace knowing that their loved ones are going to receive the support they deserve.

“These four families lost a husband, a father, a son, a grandson, a brother, and a nephew right before the holidays. These families need all the love and support that our community can give.

“These four men were the best out there. They will be deeply missed, but they will never be forgotten.”

Cash or checks can be made out to the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association, 14 Maine St., Box 40, Brunswick, ME 04011, with checks noted on the memo line to “F/V Emmy Rose.”

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Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for more than 30 years and a 25-year field editor for National Fisherman before joining our Commercial Marine editorial staff in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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