A well-known creel fisherman has died after falling overboard and spending almonst an hour in icy North Sea waters.
The man, named locally as Tony Masson, had been out in his 19ft vessel Sea Mist outside Macduff Harbour when he fell into the water yesterday lunchtime.
A passing fisherman noticed the small boat going round in circles and raised the alarm at 12.40pm after discovering the boat was empty.
RNLI and coastguard teams were scrambled to the scene.
Nearly an hour after the mayday call was issued, 67-year-old Mr Masson was pulled from the water and airlifted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Police last night confirmed he had died.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has now launched an investigation.
Detective Inspector Sam Buchan said: “The family of the man have been advised and my thoughts are with them at this very sad time.
“Inquiries are being carried out along with our partners from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Marine Accident Investigation branch.”
“A report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal in due course.”
Mr Masson, who is believed to have lived in Banff, owned his boat and fished from Macduff daily.
Local councillor Mark Findlater, who knows the family, said the tragedy was a “real shock”.
He said: “For the tight-knit community of Macduff, it really is shocking news of Mr Masson’s death.
“All of the residents’ thoughts and prayers are with his family and I’m sure the whole fishing community too.
“Fishermen go out in all weathers to put fish on our tables and this really is a tragedy.”
Councillor Ross Cassie said: “It’s a sad occasion for the town and everyone’s thoughts are with the family at this moment.
“Fishing is a dangerous profession and no one can underestimate the power of the sea.”
Macduff and Buckie RNLI crews, Banff coastguard and the Inverness coastguard helicopter were involved in the search, with nearby vessels also assisting.
A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said: “A large-scale search and rescue operation just outside Macduff Harbour after a creel fisherman was reported to be missing from his vessel.
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“HM Coastguard received a 999 call from a fellow fisherman at 12.40pm reporting the fisherman missing after he found the vessel unoccupied at sea.
“The HM Coastguard Inverness helicopter, Macduff and Buckie RNLI lifeboats and the Banff Coastguard Rescue Team were involved in the search.
“A number of vessels in the area also joined in the search after responding to a mayday relay broadcast issued by HM Coastguard.
“Just before 1.30pm the coastguard helicopter located the missing fisherman in the water.”
A spokesman for the MAIB said: “We’ve started an investigation into the fatal man overboard from the single handed fishing vessel Sea Mist BF918, outside McDuff harbour.”