The Accursio Giarratano motorized fishing boat form Sicily | PHOTO: ANSA
The Accursio Giarratano motorized fishing boat form Sicily | PHOTO: ANSA

Last week, the Sicilian motorized fishing boat Accursio Giarratano put its fishing activities on hold to rescue a dinghy overloaded with migrants and in distress at sea. Gaspare Giarratano, the owner of the boat, said that he rescued the migrants as a way of paying homage to his dead son.

''We wholeheartedly rescue migrants and we do it also as a way of paying homage to the memory of my dead son,'' said Gaspare Giarratano. The 63-year-old owner of the Accursio Giarratano fishing boat said that this has become his mission after his son passed away. 

Last week, the boat from Sciacca put its fishing activities on hold when it was about 50 miles from the coast of Malta after coming across a dinghy crowded with migrants suffering dehydration and in clear distress. 

'We rescue them and we do it with my son in mind' 

It is not the first time that this boat, under the command of Carlo, Gaspare's other son, finds large and small boats carrying the desperate on its route. It often happens, in part because the Accursio Giarratano is a boat that is authorized to engage in Mediterranean fishing, which can enter international waters.

''And every time we do our duty, putting forth effort and helping men, women and children because that is the right thing to do,'' the boat owner said with evident pride. 

''My son Accursio died in 2002,'' he said, ''after a two-year struggle against an incurable disease that had struck him. He left us when he was only 15 years old and our boat now bears his name. How could we just stand by and watch when faced with requests for help from human beings, who are sometimes children and sometimes look at us with my son's eyes? No, we rescue them and we do it also thinking about my son, because he was with us and he is blessing us from above.'' 

Migrants transferred to Coast Guard vessel 

Meanwhile, after the Maltese authorities refused a safe port for the Accursio Giarratano to disembark the passengers of the dinghy, in the area of the sea where the motorized fishing boat had stopped to help the migrants in distress, an Italian Coast Guard patrol boat arrived from Lampedusa, took the migrants onboard and then resumed its route towards the island near Agrigento. ''Now we feel calmer and we can return home,'' Giarratano said.

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