Charter boat crews set out to sea following Gov. Murphy's decision to allow charter fishing services

Charter boat crews were seen heading out to sea early Sunday morning following Gov. Phil Murphy's decision to allow charter fishing services and for-hire vessel activities to reopen.

News 12 Staff

May 17, 2020, 1:28 PM

Updated 1,439 days ago

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Charter boat crews were seen heading out to sea early Sunday morning following Gov. Phil Murphy's decision to allow charter fishing services and for-hire vessel activities to reopen.
The Norma K-3 at Point Pleasant Beach was able to set out at 6 a.m. Boat and watercraft rental businesses will also be able to reopen.
It's a much-needed reopening for those working in the fishing industry.
"Some people say it's a hobby to fish but for some people it's their livelihood and I've been one of the unlucky people," says Chris Bennett, a crew member of the Norma K-3. "I haven't been able to get unemployment so I've been struggling just to find anywhere where not many people want to hire because of the situation."
There are guidelines that charter fishing services and for-hire vessels will need to follow, including not allowing more than 10 people on a vessel at any one time. Reservations and payments must be made electronically or over the phone, and social distancing measures must be taken on the vessels and in waiting and boarding areas. Demarcation and signage about distancing must be posted. Fishers cannot share fishing equipment, bait, or gear, and the crew and passengers must wear masks while aboard the vessels.
In a statement, Murphy says, "Reopening charter fishing services and watercraft rental businesses restores an extremely important component of our Shore economy. The social distancing measures that we are putting in place will ensure that these businesses can sustain themselves while still adhering to public health guidance."
Captain Matt Sosnowski, who runs the Norma K-3, says he worries that 10 passengers at a time won’t cover his cost of operating the ship. He hopes the proactive measures will allow for more passengers on his ship soon.
Sosnowski says he's also worried how Tropical Storm Arthur brewing off the coast may keep his ship docked for the week anyway.
According to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, the recreational fishing industry supports around 15,000 jobs in New Jersey.
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