Crew members from the Spanish fleet which operates with Falkland Islands licenses met on Monday in the capital Stanley for a poignant ceremony to honor their fellow mariners who went down with the fishing vessel Villa de Pitanxo, off Newfoundland.
Out of a crew of 24, only three survived, nine bodies were recovered and twelve remain missing following the tragic accident a week ago.
The fleets fishing off Newfoundland and the Falklands come mostly from the same towns in Galicia, north west Spain, a region with a long tradition as some of the best fishing people in the world, and with very close commercial links with the Falklands fishing industry.
The ceremony initiative was born in the Sailors Home, Galicia, and crew members currently in the Falklands for one of the squid seasons. Since almost 900 fishermen are on board the trawlers in Falklands waters, and most come from Marin and Vigo, it is certain that there are close family links with crew members of the vessels operating off the east coast of Canada.
A three day mourning was declared in the region of Galicia and in Madrid a minute of silence in the Spanish Congress to honor the men who lost their lives in the rough seas with temperatures below zero and ten meters high waves.
Spanish president Pedro Sánchez has promised the families that the search for the disappeared will continue.
It's not very clear what happened but apparently according to the surviving captain, the Villa de Pitanxo engine failed in the midst of the storm and the vessel was left adrift, with the tragic result in a matter of minutes.
Canada's Coast Guard and Navy, set out an impressive rescue operation with tugs and support vessels, helicopters and aircraft, from Halifax, plus other Portuguese and Spanish vessels helping, but the strong storm and winds plus poor visibility limited the potential of the effort.
Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association
A memorial service took place on Tuesday 22nd February to remember the crew of the ill-fated FV Villa de Pitanxo that tragically sank whilst fishing in the North Atlantic on the 15th February resulting in the loss of 21 seafarers.
The loss is keenly felt in the Falkland Islands as the vessel is owned by the Nores family in Galicia, a region that has strong and enduring ties with the Falkland Islands and the local fishing companies.
FIFCA Executive Secretary James Bates said of the service that it was important to mark this sombre occasion with a befitting demonstration of support and solidarity with our friends, colleagues and their families at this very sad time and that it brought home the real dangers of the industry in which we operate and rely so much upon.
The service was led by the Port Chaplain, Maurice Lake, with FIFCA Chair, Cheryl Roberts offering condolences on behalf of the Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association.
James added that it was, “standing room only” at the Mission and it was really good to see such a large congregation attend the service, with representatives from FIG, Industry, the Falkland Islands flagged fleet and Government House in attendance. Light refreshments followed, giving plenty of opportunity to discuss and reflect. Ver menos