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Fishermen Who Died Thursday Off Coast Of Southern Maine Identified

via the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association

The two fishermen who died off the Maine coast Thursday have been identified.

The state Department of Marine Resources say the victims are 60-year-old Arnold "Joe" Nickerson IV, of Arundel, and Christopher Pinkham, 44, of Boothbay Harbor.

A Coast Guard plane first spotted Nickerson's boat, the 42-foot Hayley Ann, about 45 nautical miles southeast of Portland Thursday afternoon, after an emergency signal was detected. A lifeboat had been deployed, but a Coast Guard swimmer found the two men in the water.

Zachary Hupper is a Coast Guard spokesperson.

"It was a Coast Guard crew member that checked the life raft that had been deployed and confirmed that the raft was empty," says Hupper. "And separately the Coast Guard air crew made the determination were both unresponsive."

Another fishing boat, the Ella Christine, captained by Port Clyde fisherman Randy Cushman, also responded to the signal, and it was his boat that recovered the bodies of the two men and brought them to shore in Portland. Cushman told the Portland Press Herald the seas were rough in that area on Thursday.

Nickerson was an active figure in Maine fishery issues, serving on DMR's citizen advisory council and as chair of the board at the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association. In a statement, the association's Executive Director, Ben Martens, said it was hard to express the "profound sadness" created by news of the deaths.

"Maine has lost a great man, father, husband and grandfather, and I have personally lost a dear friend," Martens said. "Joe’s dedication to the fishing communities of Maine throughout his extensive fishing career, and his knowledge and expertise on the water, made him an invaluable leader for our organization."

A spokesperson for the state medical examiner's office said autopsies were underway Friday. A Coast Guard investigation is continuing.

GoFundMe pages, meanwhile, have been set up to help the families of Capt. Nickerson and Crewman Pinkham.

Updated 3:57 p.m. Jan. 24, 2020

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.