As with nearly all other industry in the nation, fishing and boating took a hit in March and April, especially as American manufacturing was forced to suspend production to flatten the curve. Thus, finding a silver lining or two during the COVID-19 storm has been a little like finding a needle in a haystack, especially when government doesn’t classify the recreational fishing industry as “essential” in relation to business operations during a crisis.
The real essential workers on the front line in the fight against the pandemic however struck gold when Viking Yacht Company halted work at both their New Gretna and Mullica plants due to coronavirus. On March 24, the staff at Shore Medical Center announced that Viking President Patrick Healey donated 1,000 3M N95 masks, 100 Tyvek suits, 50 Tyvek hoods and 50 Tyvek bootie sets to the staff at Shore Medical Center and two other nearby healthcare facilities. “I wanted to help take care of the place that takes care of my workers,” Healey said of donating the safety equipment.
And with striped bass action on fire along the Raritan Bay heading into April and local charter boats tied to the docks, the captains and anglers at the Raritan Bay Anglers Club started a Tuesday night pizza party for health workers and first responders in Perth Amboy. Starting April 14 and for eight consecutive weeks, Raritan Bay Anglers Club began having 10 large pizzas delivered every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to the Hackensack Meridian Health / Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy.
In a statement titled “we thank you for your strength, courage and service,” the Raritan Bay Anglers Club membership explained of their wanting to do something in appreciation for the selfless efforts and sacrifices made by first responders. The club’s efforts also prompted others to phone in the local Domino’s to join them in honoring hospital staffers for the Tuesday night pizza night.
Even as the boating and fishing community continues to provide assistance for neighbors and first responders, not every lining has been silver. In early April, Polaris Inc. announced it would stop producing Rinker, Larson FX and Striper boat brands at its Syracuse, IN plant as of June, resulting in the elimination of 120 jobs.