THE land-based operation to transport recovered sections of the L’Ecume II fishing trawler to a secure site at La Collette is due to begin.
And further tributes to one of Jersey’s ‘most-respected’ fishermen, Michael ‘Mick’ Michieli, have poured in after a body was recovered from the wreck on Wednesday.
The trawler sank on Thursday 8 December following a collision with the Commodore Goodwill freight ship off Jersey’s west coast, triggering an immediate search-and-rescue operation spanning 36 hours.
A follow-on recovery mission using the offshore support vessel MV Freja took place in December, with two bodies being recovered from the wreck. They were identified as crewmen Jervis Ramirez Baligat and Larry Simyunn, from the Philippines.
In February, it was decided that the vessel should be raised for both ‘evidential gain and for humanitarian reasons’ and specialist teams and equipment – including a 60-metre-long crane barge – started the operation earlier this month.
On Wednesday evening, the States police said that a body had been brought ashore and that the family of Mr Michieli had been informed.
A formal identification process is due to take place.
Jersey Fishermen’s Association president Don Thompson stressed that the recovery of a body was ‘not something to celebrate’ but added that it ‘helps to bring things to some sort of closure’, particularly for the Michieli family.
‘It brings to an end all the worry and wondering of what’s happened to Michael; it brings to an end all of the speculation as to whether he was trapped in the wreck or not and to some extent there will be a bit more of an indication as to what might have happened.
‘Fishermen are a very close-knit community and to lose one of your members, one of your colleagues, one of your friends, in that way – it is hard to put into words how that feels,’ he said.
He added that Mr Michieli was ‘well-known for being absolutely super-resilient and super-determined’.
Jersey Lifeboat Association coxswain Andy Hibbs – also a friend of Mr Michieli – said it was ‘a great relief that we got him home’.
He described Mr Michieli as one of Jersey’s ‘most-respected’ fishermen.
‘He was a really decent, genuine family man,’ he continued, adding that he hoped the recovery process could help provide ‘closure and hopefully justice’.
A statement issued by the government yesterday afternoon confirmed that sections of the wreck had been recovered from the seabed.
It said: ‘Due to changing weather conditions and sea state, the recovery teams plan to bring back parts of the vessel over a period of several days.
‘The landside operation to transfer parts of the wreck to a secure storage area will start this week. Traffic management will be in place in the La Collette area, with temporary and minimal disruption expected.
‘No road closures will be needed. Businesses in the vicinity have been informed,’ the government statement said.
‘Please be reminded that the operation is part of an ongoing police investigation and the teams involved require space and privacy to complete their work in the safest and most appropriate way.’
The remainder of the operation is dependent on weather and sea conditions.
In a statement, Chief Minister Kristina Moore said: ‘My thoughts and prayers remain with the Michieli family at this very difficult time, while the formal identification process takes place.’