Appeal to governor to ‘save New Jersey charter boat industry’
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The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) and the United Boatmen of New Jersey (UBNJ) have made an official appeal to the Governor of New Jersey to help save the state’s charter boat industry.
The letter from Ray Bogan, General Counsel for both organisations, to Governor Phil Murphy asks for new measures to allow captains and crews to get back to work.
It outlines a proposal drawn up by the captains to facilitate a safe opening to the imminent charter boat season, reports The Fisherman Magazine.
The New Jersey charter fishing community made national headlines last week with a story about how the lockdown is devastating the state’s historic fishing boat industry. Business owners are urging state and federal governments to allow them to survive the lockdown.
Wednesday’s appeal comes just before the May 15 opening of the black sea bass season and the May 22 opening of the flounder season.
“In order to responsibly address the concerns associated with COVID-19, our proposal seeks a measured and cautious reopening, which incorporates protective measures for those who have historically sought to enjoy the marine environment on these boats,” wrote Bogan.
Those measures include a five-passenger limit, daily cleaning routines, the use of protective clothing and face gear, daily health monitoring of the crew, a restriction on sharing equipment and touch-less payment where possible.
“A continued closure jeopardises the future of that segment of the industry,” Bogan added. “A structured and tempered opening, however, could help save many of those historic and traditional businesses.”
Around 50 New Jersey charter boats have already gone out of business in the last 23 years following the passage of the Sustainable Fisheries Act in 1996.
Governor Murphy said this week that ‘there’s a shot’ some parts of the Jersey shore could be open for Memorial Day weekend (May 25), but warned that it won’t be business as usual for quite some time.