An official government investigation into the sinking of the Brixham fishing boat Joanna C has begun.

The 45-foot scalloper went down off the Sussex coast early in the morning on November 21.

Skipper Dave Bickerstaff was rescued by the Newhaven RNLI lifeboat after clinging to a buoy for several hours, but crewman Robert Morley has not been found.

The body of crewman Adam Harper, from Brixham, was found by divers in his bunk inside the boat.

Now the government’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch has begun its routine inquiry into the sinking.

The MAIB investigates all maritime accidents in UK waters and accidents involving UK registered ships worldwide. It sets out to establish the cause of accidents, to promote awareness of risks and prevent recurrence.

As part of the investigation, an exclusion zone has been set up around the location of the wreck.

Andrew Moll, the chief inspector of marine accidents, has issued a formal notice prohibiting access to the site.

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Adam Harper and Robert Morley lost at sea when the fishing boat Joanna C from Brixham sank

The notice bans any access to the wreck and says it must be left undisturbed until further notice, pending the investigation.

It means no one can anchor in the vicinity of the wreck or fish nearby.

No diving operations are allowed on the wreck or its gear, and a 200m no-go zone has been set up around the Joanna C.

Fundraising efforts for the families of the Joanna C crew have gone worldwide, and more than £60,000 has been raised on different GoFundMe appeals by well-wishers already.

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Skipper Dave Bickerstaff

Lights will be lit around the world on Saturday, December 5 at 6.14pm in memory of the lost fishermen. The idea came from Adam Harper’s mother, Sarah Jayne Harper, after calls for a two minute lights-out. She revealed that her son was afraid of the dark and asked people to shine a light. The idea has now taken off around the world with fishing communities promising to join the vigil in memory of Adam and Robert.

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The fishing community in Newhaven held a vigil shortly after the sinking and hundreds of people gathered for a two-minute silence to send their thoughts and prayers to the two fishermen who were lost and skipper Dave Bickerstaff who survived after clinging to a lifebuoy for four hours in gale force winds.





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