Martin Cunningham.
Martin Cunningham.

Fisherman, skipper killed in Bowen boat crash remembered

A FAR North Queensland fisherman and skipper is being fondly remembered a year on from when he was tragically lost at sea.

North Cape Fisheries has posted a touching tribute to Martin Sydney Cunningham in the Cairns Post to honour a man with a great love of fishing and passion for the Great Barrier Reef.

"You can shed a tear that Martin has gone.

Or you can smile because he lived,'' the start of the tribute reads.

"You can close your eyes and pray that Martin will come back or you can open your eyes and see all that Martin has left.''.


Tribute to Martin Cunningham.
Tribute to Martin Cunningham.

The tribute goes on before finishing with an appeal to remember Martin in a positive way.

"You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back.

"Or you can do what Martin would want, smile, open your eyes, love and live on.''

Mr Cunningham, 43, was a skipper of a commercial fishing vessel that capsized off Bowen in May last year.

North Cape Fisherises owner and operator Martin Cunningham.
North Cape Fisherises owner and operator Martin Cunningham.

At the time, local tackle shop owner Sam Pagano described him as a dedicated seafarer who had "saltwater running through his veins".

"Martin grew up around boats and loved the ocean his whole life," he said.

"He was passionate about the health of the Reef and fisheries management in general - he had a strong opinion about that kind of thing."

Innisfail seafood wholesaler Rodney Timms described Mr Cunningham as the best skipper he had ever met.

"I'll never forget the day he shook my hand and said 'thanks for telling me to go professional'," he said.

"Whatever Marty did he made sure it was done properly. Everything he kept on his boats was up to scratch - he was a true perfectionist."

Martin Cunningham and his mother Yvonne.
Martin Cunningham and his mother Yvonne.

The tragedy occurred when his 17m fishing vessel collided with a tugboat about 1.5km off Bowen.

Two Bowen men, aged 26 and 29, were taken to hospital after the incident.

One of the men was saved by a commercial diver after he became trapped under the capsized vessel.

North Cape Fisheries is based in Innisfail, 100km south of Cairns, however its scope of work covers all Qld state waters from Torres Strait to Fraser Island and a large portion of the Coral Sea.