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Charter Fishing, Boat Rentals Will be Reopened in N.J., With Restrictions

Boating on Barnegat Bay. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Boating on Barnegat Bay. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

New Jersey officials paved the way for marinas to function for the 2020 summer season several weeks ago, but the operators of charter fishing vessels, as well as owners of boat rental businesses, said they were left high and dry.

As of Sunday, however, the businesses were allowed to reopen, albeit with a number of restrictions in place that state officials say will help contain the spread of coronavirus.

“Reopening charter fishing services and watercraft rental businesses restores an extremely important component of our Shore economy.” said Gov. Phil Murphy, in a statement. “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.”

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The reopening, which officially occurred at 6 a.m. Sunday, comes with a lengthy list of social distancing restrictions, including:

  • Reduced capacity to no more than 10 people on a vessel at any one time.
  • The usage of electronic or telephone reservation and payment systems.
  • No make-up or open boat trips.
  • Social distancing measures – such as a six foot distance between parties – on vessels and in waiting and boarding areas, including demarcation and signage.
  • Sharing of fishing equipment, bait, and gear is prohibited.
  • The use of nets or gaffs can be performed by the crew only.
  • Infection control and hygiene practices are required.
  • Boats must provide sanitization materials to passengers and crew.
  • Frequent sanitization of vessel and high-touch areas is required.
  • The crew and passengers must wear a mask while aboard the vessel.
  • Food and beverage service is prohibited.
  • All passengers must be briefed prior to embarking on social distancing, capacity limits, and hygiene requirements.

Watercraft rental businesses will be allowed to reopen as long as they adopt policies consistent with the “curb-side pickup” restrictions that apply to retail establishments, the governor’s office said.