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Update on search for missing fisherman

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Matthew Balange’s abandoned boat was discovered near Comboyuro Point on Monday. Picture: 9 News

The search for a fisherman who disappeared in waters off the Sunshine Coast last week has been called off.

An extensive search and rescue operation was launched after Matthew Balange, 43, failed to return from a solo fishing trip on Sunday.

His family sounded the alarm after Mr Balange was unable to be contacted after his planned return time of 3pm, having launched his boat at Mooloolaba Boat Ramp that morning.

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Matthew Balange failed to return from a solo fishing trip on Sunday. Picture: Facebook
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It’s believed he may have fallen into the water while pulling in a fish. Picture: Facebook

The following day police began a wide-ranging search.

His boat, a Cruise Craft Regal 2000, was discovered about two nautical miles off Comboyuro Point at the northern end of Moreton Island on Monday.

Aerial searches were subsequently called off the following afternoon.

Police further scaled back the search operation on Wednesday, with search efforts focusing on the foreshore along Bribie Island and eastern Moreton Island.

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Mr Balange’s abandoned boat was discovered near Comboyuro Point on Monday. Picture: 9 News

Sunshine Coast District search and rescue co-ordinator Senior Constable Murray Lyons thanked all those involved in the search, including community members and volunteers.

“Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to locate the man and bring him home to his loved ones,” Constable Lyons said.

“We have liaised closely with his family and discussed the sad news regarding the likelihood of survival; they have asked for privacy during this difficult time.”

Mr Balange’s partner, Kylie Kolm, expressed her grief on social media.

“He has left a big hole in a lot of people …” she posted to Facebook.

“I just wish he was back.”

Coast guards believe Mr Balange may have fallen into the water while reeling in a fish, with his boat continuing on without him.