In an executive order last week, Gov. Phil Murphy cleared fishing charters in New Jersey to resume while operating under strict guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including limiting vessel capacity to 10 people and requiring crew and passengers to wear masks.
Social distancing, sanitation of heads after each use, and other requirements are in effect, including the establishment of online or telephone payment systems to reduce possible points of contact between customers and vendors.
On the south end of the U.S., Florida fishing charters were reopened starting on April 29th with CDC social distancing guidelines in effect as well.
Recreational fishing in Florida generates an annual $11.5 billion, making it one of the biggest drivers of the local economy, and charter fisherman have taken a huge hit from coronavirus restrictions.
Boat capacity restrictions are as follows, based on the size of the boat.:
*25-foot or less: maximum 6 persons (4 adult passengers plus 2 children 17 & under)
*26- to 36-foot: maximum 8 persons (6 adult passengers plus 2 children 17 & under)
*37- to 60-foot: maximum 10 persons (8 adult passengers plus 2 children 17 & under)
*60-foot and larger: maximum 10 passengers plus crew
Luckily, Florida fisherman are resilient people due to yearly rashes of cancellations during hurricane season.
In counties where COVID-19 is not as widespread, a number of fishing guides have started running online ads promoting heavily discounted fishing trips, and have turned to social media to farm future bookings and relationships with regular charter guests.
Captains have been fully understanding of the concerns associated with travelling right now, which is also why the vast majority of captains are fully supportive of their customers canceling or postponing their trips without having to pay a penny.
Whether it’s knowing that life is bound to return to normal, or the fact that they’ve survived pretty much everything nature has thrown their way, we have faith that fishing captains around the world will find a way to adapt and keep going. Please consider postponing, as opposed to cancelling, any of your future trips, or taking your family and friends fishing on a charter soon!
Written by Lacey Hagler.