It goes without saying that these are very tough times for many businesses and industries. Among them are charter and party boats, and tackle shops. Requests have been made to state officials for consideration of some kind to operate at a greatly reduced level, but other than allowing curbside service for tackle shops there has been no response where party and charter boats are concerned. Thankfully, fishing with adherence to social guidelines is one activity that is being encouraged during the pandemic. The irony is that many people who would fish, and normally rely on for-hire boats, cannot fish. Aside from its psychological and physical benefits, recreational fishing is also a source of food, a benefit that should not be overlooked. That’s especially true when we are being told that meat product costs may rise by as much as 60 percent, along with possible shortages. Some captains have already agreed to reducing their capacity by 75 percent and to enact strict social distancing and sanitizing protocol but there has been no response. Hopefully, there will be some consideration given before we get any deeper into the fishing season. The following was submitted on behalf of the New York Sportfishing Federation by its president, Capt. Joe Paradiso.
During these unprecedented times the New York Sportfishing Federation is keeping everyone in the community in are thoughts and prayers. We hope everyone is safe and healthy. We realize the mental, physical, and economical impact this pandemic is having on all of us. For the past 39 years the New York Sportfishing Federation has worked hard to be the voice of the recreational fishing community in NY. Representing to the best of our abilities all interests in the fishing community. Many small businesses in our marine district have fallen on very tough times with executive orders and mandates that have shut their business down completely or have harshly restricted it.
The For-hire industry which is made up of hundreds of licensed party and charter boats have been deemed non-essential and unable to operate at this time. The timing of this could not have been worse as our fishing season is upon us. The New York Sportfishing Federation has on behalf of all For-hire businesses, put forth an effort to ask our Governor to consider deeming the industry essential and allowing them to operate.
A letter was recently drafted and sent to the Governor’s office advocating for the For-hire industry. Outlining and emphasizing the importance of the industry to NY’s economy and to the recreational community. Also stressing that the for-hire boats can and are willing to implement and adhere to the social distancing, PPE, and sanitary guidelines set forth by the CDC for the safety of our customers and crew. Operating safely and responsibly.
Through the efforts of Assemblywoman Melissa “Missy” Miller along with Congressman Zeldin’s office the letter was able to be fast tracked to the Governor’s desk for consideration. This is a first important step to achieve the goal of getting the For-hire industry up and running as soon as possible. While it’s only a first step in the process, it’s an important one, but still requires a great amount of effort on everyone’s part. During this process we urge those with vested interests to be patient and follow the executive orders as they stand. We understand the frustration and hardship the industry and their families are incurring. The NYSF has full time operators on our board of directors and we represent many For-hire members and captains organizations. We implore For-hire businesses to comply now and when able to operate, strictly adhere to the guidelines set forth. Not doing so will only undermine this effort and ultimately delay the chance to open and operate. The NYSF asks for your support on this issue.