A fisherman was found dead in a crashed fishing boat at Point Reyes, Calif. Around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Helicopter Unit, Henry-1, responded to the calls of a boat along the coast near Chimney Rock in Point Reyes. The fishing vessel on the rocks was The Westerly, a Dungeness crab boat.

A United States Coast Guard rescue swimmer was deployed from the helicopter, and an individual was located on the boat. The sheriff’s office said the swimmer could not enter the cabin without breaching equipment. The crew on Henry-1 retrieved a paramedic from the Marin County Fire Department and was tasked with a 100-foot-long line rescue. Statements said that the boat was on the rocks and was battered by the incoming waves pushing it more onto its side. Due to the damage, The Westerly was sinking.

When the tactical flight officer and the paramedic reached the boat with the breaching tools and gained access to the cabin, they determined that the person was deceased. The man was identified as Matthew Paul, a commercial fisherman of Half Moon Bay, according to The Press Democrat. The crew removed Paul’s body from the vessel, and it was airlifted to the Marin County Coroner’s Office, where further investigation of his cause of death will take place.

The sheriff's office stated, “We would like to send our condolences to the subject’s family during this difficult time.”

According to the Office of Spill Prevention and Response, The Westerly’s diesel capacity was reported to be about 400 gallons, and it’s unknown at this time if any fuel was discharged from the crash. The response team will continue to coordinate with the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Southwest, Marin County government, National Park Service, and NOAA’s Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries to assess the vessel's status and the potential for pollution.

The Office of Spill Prevention and Response stated that no impacts on wildlife have been observed at this time, and the investigation into the cause of the crash will continue.

Paul had crab fished the waters off from Calif. for decades and was interviewed by KTVU-TV in Dec. 2023 when delays and restrictions for the season were announced. He was one of many commercial Dungeness fishermen affected by financial losses due to the shortened season to protect humpback whales. The Calif. Department of Fish and Wildlife stated that the 2024 season will end on April 8 at 6 p.m. for fishing zones 3, 4, 5, and 6.

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Carli is a Content Specialist for National Fisherman. She comes from a fourth-generation fishing family off the coast of Maine. Her background consists of growing her own business within the marine community. She resides on one of the islands off the coast of Maine while also supporting the lobster community she grew up in.

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