Two Kiwis are on a fishing trawler that has mysteriously disappeared off Queensland.

Skipper Grant Sainty, 60, hasn't made contact with his family since November 12, the day after the boat left from Urangan, in Hervey Bay.

The search for the trawler and crew, reported missing south of Bundaberg on Queensland's Fraser Coast, began on Friday, but has now been scaled back, police say.

Sainty was understood to be on board with Tokoroa father-of-six Doug Hunt and one other crew member.


His mother Pam Sainty, of Waiwera, said it was very unusual for her son, who had been living in Australia for 40 years, not to contact family while he was at sea.

The fact he hadn't made her doubt he and the others would be found alive, she told the Herald.

"I'm up and down really. You feel very helpless.

"I don't know when to put the [death] notice in and I'm not hearing all that much from my family in Australia."

Sainty's only daughter turned 21 last week and his mother said he would have been devastated to miss it.

"I know he would have been hellbent on getting home."

Police said the trawler departed from Urangan on November 11 about 9.45pm and travelled east through Breaksea Spit before communications ceased the following morning.

"There are three reported crew members, a 60-year-old experienced male skipper, a 24-year-old man and a 38-year-old man.

"The trawler did not dock at its scheduled Sunshine Coast location on November 18, however this was not deemed out of character by those known to the crew members," police said.

Water police began a search on Friday morning, assisted by the Lifeflight rescue helicopter service, and covered the coastline from Bustard Head to Urangan Harbour.

A Queensland police spokeswoman told the Herald today the search had ended after the thousands of nautical miles covered fail to show any sign of the trawler, but patrols would still be conducted.

Broadcasts across the marine radio network would also continue in an attempt to find the missing trawler, the spokeswoman said.

Sainty had four grown-up children and was the eldest of four brothers who were raised in Pakuranga.

All of his brothers had been fishermen at one time or another and Sainty loved his work, his mother said.

"We know Grant would have just fought to the death saving everyone and everything."

This year had been tough enough already for the 81-year-old, who recently had surgery meaning she had been too unwell to attend her son's 60th birthday in Australia.

"I should have been there," she said.

"[But] it's not easy to jump on a plane at my age."

She had been staying with her brothers in Whitianga and being near family had "perked [her] up no end".

Hunt's partner told Australian media yesterday she just wants her "soulmate" back.

"Doug is my soul mate and father of our three beautiful children as well as father to my additional three children who he adores," she told the Fraser Coast Chronicle.

She said Hunt took a job on the trawler to make Christmas money for the family.