Charter boats included in phase one of reopening, which starts Friday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 May 2020 at 8:13 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: A boater passes through the channel at Oak Orchard Harbor at Point Breeze in this photo from May 28, 2015. Fishing is big business in Orleans County.

Phase one of the reopening of the economy listed fishing as an allowable activity.

There was uncertainty if that included charter boats. On Wednesday, the state made it clear charter boats are included and provided guidelines for “commercial fishing services and for-hire vessels.”

That is welcome news in Orleans County, where fishing has a $28 million annual economic impact – in a normal year. That is based on a 2017 survey from the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Out-of-state anglers account for 70 percent of the fishing economic output in Orleans County, $19,620,488 of the $27,989,393. County residents who fish accounted for $1,767,334 in economic activity while other New York state residents outside Orleans represented another $6,601,571.

The state provided a list of precautions to protect against Covid-19 for charter boats and commercial fishing services.

Some of the guidelines for employers and employees include:

Limiting in-person gatherings on vessels and boats, as follows:

• Commercial Vessels: No more than the minimum number of crew members necessary for safe operations; provided, however, that members wear acceptable face coverings when unable to maintain an appropriate social distance of 6 feet.

• All Other Vessels and Boats: No more than the maximum number of people who can safely maintain an appropriate social distance of 6 feet, inclusive of both crew and passengers, unless all are members of the same household. If such distance cannot be maintained, acceptable face coverings must be worn at all times by all individuals on the vessel.

• Walk-In Fishing Guide: Permitted so long as personal contact is minimized and social distancing protocols, including wearing acceptable face coverings when individuals are less than 6 feet apart from one another, are adhered to by all parties.

Recommended Best Practices

• Consider touchless payment, where possible; and if not possible, have hand hygiene supplies (e.g. hand sanitizer) for use after each transaction.

• Face coverings must be cleaned or replaced after use or when damaged or soiled, may not be shared, and should be properly stored or discarded.

• Limit the sharing of objects (e.g. tools, machinery, vehicles) and discourage touching of shared surfaces; or, when in contact with shared objects or frequently touched areas, wear gloves (trade- appropriate or medical); or, sanitize or wash hands before and after contact.

• Passengers aboard for-hire vessels must use appropriate face coverings when social distancing of six feet cannot be maintained, unless they are under three years of age or cannot medically tolerate such covering.

• Regularly clean and disinfect all areas of the vessel at the beginning and end of each trip.

• Cleaning and disinfecting of facilities and vessels, shared surfaces, and other areas, as well as equipment and tools, should be performed using Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) products identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as effective against COVID-19.

• If cleaning or disinfection products or the act of cleaning and disinfecting causes safety hazards or degrades the material or machinery, personnel should have access to a hand hygiene station between use and/or be supplied with disposable gloves.

• Ensure that vessels with food service abide by the same health and safety protocols that are in effect for food service establishments.

• Prohibit shared food and beverages (e.g. buffet-style meals).

• Conspicuously post completed safety plans on site.

For more information on the guidelines from the state, click here.

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