A fast and collaborative response from emergency services in the Top End this afternoon meant a local fisherman returned home uninjured just hours after he activated an emergency beacon from his fishing boat off Melville Island.

The local man was rescued by the CareFlight Top End Rescue helicopter from the south-eastern corner of the Island after he set-off an emergency distress beacon (EPIRB) from his small (4.7m) recreational fishing boat.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Search and Rescue responded to the beacon activation, tasking the Northern Territory (NT) Water Police. According to the initial incident report, the man was first located by Border Force aircraft flying in the area, who communicated directly with Darwin Water Police to confirm the man’s position – in a remote location without land access north of mainland Northern Territory.

According to NT Water Police Search and Rescue Coordinator, Travis Edwards, the man’s quick activation of the beacon meant response was fast and the man was rescued in just a few short hours.

“Australia is really fortunate to have great search and rescue systems and equipment in place. Today’s rescue illustrates how effective these are, and how efficient they can be when safety equipment is carried and activated appropriately,” he says.

The CareFlight helicopter was deployed to the scene, landing on a beach just before 4pm near where they located the man and his boat. The boat had split down the centre and become swamped in the shallow water so was left.

Fortunately, the man was uninjured, and with his fishing gear and belongings safely aboard the helicopter, was brought back to Darwin, landing at the base shortly after 5pm.