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Effective May 25, 2020, for-hire fishing may resume in the Bay State under specific limitations and guidelines.
By Toby Lapinski  |  May 18, 2020
It's all thumbs up with the news that for-hires may resume sailing as of May 25, 2020! (Photo courtesy of Black Rose Fishing Charters)

On April 28, Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker announced the suspension of for-hire boating in the state in conjunction with the verification that boat ramps across the state would remain open.

In response to this, on April 30 a group including representatives from the Recreational Fishing Alliance, the American Saltwater Guides Association, the Stellwagen Bank Charter Boat Association, the Northeast Charterboat Captains Association and the Cape Cod Charter Boat Association filed a letter that requested, “…saltwater fishing guides and charter boat captains…be allowed to resume operations at the time of Phase One reopening of the state.” The letter was filed with Governor Charles Baker with copies sent to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.

On May 18, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 33: Order Implementing a Phased Reopening of Workplaces and Imposing Workplace Safety Measures to Address COVID-19, implementing a phased reopening of workplaces and imposing workplace safety measures to address COVID-19. That same day, he issued COVID-19 Order No. 34: Order Expanding Access to and Use of State Beaches and Addressing Other Outdoor Recreational Activities, which directed the Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs “to issue guidance for the implementation of generally applicable COVID-19 workplace standards by operators of and participants in outdoor recreational activities.”

COVID-19 Order No. 33 permits certain outdoor recreational activities and facilities to resume operations on May 25, 2020, provided that those operations meet safety standards and comply with the terms and conditions of the Order. Included in the list of recreational activities is for-hire and charter fishing.

With respect to for hire and charter fishing, the Order provides that no more than ten people, including any captain and crew, are aboard a single vessel at any one time. This means that vessels with more than 10 passengers and crew are not allowed to operate at this time.

In addition to complying with the aforementioned limitations, operators must implement the following safety measures detailed below:

Social Distancing

  • All persons, including employees, customers, and vendors should remain at least six feet apart to the greatest extent possible, both inside and outside workplaces
  • Establish protocols to ensure that employees can practice adequate social distancing
  • Provide signage for safe social distancing
  • Require face coverings or masks for all employees and customers

Hygiene Protocols

  • Provide hand-washing capabilities throughout the workplace
  • Ensure frequent hand washing by employees and adequate supplies to do so
  • Provide regular sanitization of high touch areas, such as workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms throughout work site

Staffing and Operations

  • Provide training for employees regarding the social distancing and hygiene protocols
  • Employees who are displaying COVID-19-like symptoms do not report to work
  • Establish a plan for employees getting ill from COVID-19 at work, and a return-to-work plan

Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • Establish and maintain cleaning protocols specific to the business
  • When an active employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, cleaning and disinfecting must be performed
  • Disinfection of all common surfaces must take place at intervals appropriate to said workplace

A complete copy of the Guidance Document may be found at www.mass.gov.