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Grim outlook for missing fishermen off Tas

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/08/2016 Andrew Drummond

Four recreational fishermen missing in chilly waters off Hobart are unlikely to survive for long if their boat has sunk, police say.

But if the ageing runabout has capsized, search crews would expect to have found floating debris.

The foursome aged in their late 20s and early 30s - three from Hobart and one from New Zealand - launched the 16-foot craft about 9am Sunday from Cremorne southeast of the city, and the alarm was raised by one of their girlfriends when they failed to return as planned six hours later.

On Monday there were six boats and two aircraft scouring an area of water based on drift predictions.

Water police inspector Lee Renshaw said the group of mates haven't been spotted since launching from the beach, and the most recent record of one of their mobile phones being in use was at about the same time.

"The difficulty we have is we don't know where they've gone and how far they've gone," he said.

"It is a confined bit of water but if they've gone into (nearby) Storm Bay, that makes the search area so much bigger."

Water temperatures are between 10C and 14C.

"Survivability in that temperature of water isn't good," Insp Renshaw said.

"We're doing research at the moment as to what the survivability rates are, but in that temperature of water it's not a long time."

Weather conditions on Sunday and overnight are not expected to have caused problems for the fibreglass craft which Insp Renshaw described as old.

"We have got grave concerns for their safety particularly if the vessel has sunk and they're in the water - their survival chances are diminishing."

But search crews should have found items if the boat has sunk, he added.

"It's highly surprising we've had nothing floating in the water," the inspector said.

There were four life jackets on board the boat, police said.

A vehicle and empty boat trailer remain on the beach nearby where the vessel launched.

The search continues.

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