First and foremost, these are unprecedented times. Our industry has been devastated. The Paycheck Protection Program loans never made it to most of us. Unemployment benefits have been sporadic at best. The federal and state governments are having a difficult time with the self-employed and 1099 crowd. Unfortunately, that is who we are.
Taking all of this into account, our top priority is getting our guides back on the water during Phase 1 of state re-openings. We are not health professionals. We will not pretend to be. This seems to be the most responsible way forward.
We are entrepreneurs and we represent everything that this country is supposed to be about. We are hard-working, self-employed Americans who clearly believe in the American Dream.
It is our job every day, day after day, to keep our clients safe on the water. That is no small task. We face Mother Nature constantly. We make life-and-death calls to stay in or go out. We are one of the most heavily regulated industries in this country. For-hire captains must fill out logs, provide safety equipment, maintain vessels, and make calls every day on the weather. We are used to having this level of responsibility. We know we can operate safely in the current climate. Our clients already trust us with their lives. This is no different.
Here is a list of ways we intend to keep our clients safe on the water:
- Requiring completion of a COVID-19 prescreening questionnaire 24 hours prior to charter departure, and maintaining these records for state collection and audit
- Requesting that all clients who are feeling ill or showing any signs of being infected cancel the trip prior to arrival with no penalty for cancellation;
- Limiting the number of clients on board so as to maintain recommended social distancing guidelines;
- Requiring clients to provide their own food and drink stored in personal containers rather than a communal cooler;
- Wearing approved face coverings and gloves;
- Carrying cleaning and disinfecting materials, soap, water, and hand sanitizer on board;
- Regularly cleaning and disinfecting all areas of the vessel at the beginning and end of each trip; and
- Cleaning frequently touched surfaces such as handrails and fishing equipment over the course of each trip.
ASGA has been in contact with almost every state on the east coast. We are proposing solutions to this issue. Sending letters is not enough to ensure you are working again in Phase 1. We are following up with our board members, decision-makers, and elected officials. We are doing everything we can to keep you in business.
We are very fortunate to have teamed up with several groups to help get charter captains back out on the water in a safe manner. Our most recent letter was to Governor Baker (MA) and we are grateful for the coalition of charter for-hire associations that worked with us.
See more on the association here: https://saltwaterguidesassociation.com/covid-19-update-what-we-are-doing-to-get-for-hire-captains-back-on-the-water/