Search underway for missing fisherman off Big Island

HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Coast Guard and Hawaii County Fire Department are searching for a missing fisherman whose kayak was found adrift near Kawaihae, Hawaii Thursday morning.

The Coast Guard in Honolulu was notified by the Hawaii County Fire Department of the situation at  11 a.m. A passing vessel noticed the unmanned green kayak floating about 300 yards off the Kawaihae Harbor entrance with fishing gear and a cooler still on board.

The missing man is described as being in his 60's, 6 feet tall, 180 lbs wearing black shorts and a fishing shirt.

An MH-65 dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point was launched to the scene and continues to search in coordination with Hawaii County Fire Department helicopters and boats.  The Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake has been sent to assist with the search from Honolulu.

The Coast Guard is using Self Locating Datum Marker Buoys and the Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System to coordinate the maritime searches.  SAROPS was designed to use environmental data to provide the most probable drift of a person in the water or a search object.

The Coast Guard is asking mariners in the area of the Kawaihae and the north west side of Hawaii Island to keep a sharp eye out for the man and to report any sightings to the Coast Guard over VHF marine radio channel 16 or to contact the Sector Honolulu Command Center at (808) 842-2600.

Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.