The heartbroken family of a missing fisherman have expressed their sorrow as the search and rescue operation is scaled back.
Matthew Balange, 43, is believed to have fallen overboard while trying to pull in a fish near Mooloolaba on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast on Sunday.
His boat was found off the northern end of Moreton Island on Monday with the engine still running, leading authorities to believe he had fallen into the water with the boat continuing on without him.
Queensland Police announced on Wednesday they are scaling back their operation to focus on the foreshore of Bribie Island and eastern Moreton Island.
Authorities have expressed that the chances of finding Mr Balange alive are slim and diminishing.
Mr Balange’s shattered family have expressed their heartbreak as the hours tick on.
“It’s 3am, and I am just here heartbroken, in disbelief, wishing this was a nightmare,” his partner Kylie wrote on social media.
His family expressed their “massive appreciation and gratitude” for those searching for Mr Balange in a statement, saying that “without them, we would not have the shreds of hope that we have clung to during this time”
“Matt absolutely loved his fishing, he lived and breathed it every opportunity he could get,” the family wrote.
“We take a little solace that he was doing what he absolutely loved.
“While our family still holds hope for a positive outcome, we are realistic in our expectations.”