I hope all is as best it can be at this time and just wanted to give everyone here on a sense of what to prepare for short term and over the coming months.
This morning I was on the NY Economic Development conference call that consists of representatives from the seafood, agriculture, and tourism industries not only in our state but more so Long Island and the NYC area. I spoke and provided information for the for-hire industry in the NYS Marine & Coastal District with those on today's call with a small framework on the issues concerning and impacting the participants within the party & charter industry.
First I just want to be upfront one of the "asks" or requests that was most noted from a few of our NY RFHFA members who have contacted me over the past week was on this issue in order to make some income from fishing:
• Allowing for-hire operators with >75% of their income from fishing and do not have a NYS FFL, could obtain the commercial permit during this time.
The answer from the person I spoke with from a state agency was swift in part due to what the George LaPointe dossier cobbled from all the scoping hearings, and that they will not increase the number of participants in the NYS commercial fishing sector.
With this thought out of the way I will provide to those who do not know some of the government resources available, and this as best we can do at this time to help point any fishermen and their family in the direction of receiving some financial relief during this period of time.
1- COVID-19 Financial Survival Toolkit for New Yorkers:
https://osc.state.ny.us/covid-19/financ ... +oversight
2- Application for New Yorkers to Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance:
https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/nys-de ... y-pandemic
3- New York Sea Grant Covid-19 Seafood Industry Resources:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IE2k1J ... 5bJEM/view
Next is the letter provided below from DEC Commissioner Saggos to NOAA Assistant Administrator Chris Oliver concerning the 'FISHERY DISASTER' financial funding package. The number of dollars for fishery relief is 300 million dollars, which I heard today and from what I have been previously been told will be administered through the ASFMC - Commission which will then disburse funds to the states.
Also from what I was told is that NYS especially in the NYC - Long Island region which has been a 'hotspot Covid-19 nexus' should help our state and those impacted fishermen and fishing businesses receiving it's "fair share," and this may not be an appropriate phrase since it literally comes down to our state people fighting for these dollars as much as possible. As we have seen in the last relief package with 300 million dollars "not going a long way when there are so many fishermen and businesses which will apply for the fishery relief money."
I would highly recommend once again for ANYONE applying for this FISHERY DISASTER relief money to - HAVE YOUR FINANCIAL PAPERWORK READY.
For those who want to become more familiar with the 'CARES PACKAGE' on the NOAA website:
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national ... -19-update
Some background on the design of the financial relief package was provided roughly a month ago on the SAVING SEAFOOD website, and you can sense that most of the money would be provided to the commercial fishing sector:
https://www.savingseafood.org/news/wash ... proposals/
So where does the for-hire industry not only in New York but as much country fits in for financial relief, I will be blunt here in publicly stating that I have no idea or that we will have any input in how the money is divided up between all the various facets of the NYS fishing industry.
I should also address a few other items and thoughts that were brought to my attention with one in having customers sign an 'Immunity waiver' before boarding and fishing on a party or charter vessel.
In keeping this thought very brief I would highly advise any business to seek extremely competent guidance from someone who has passed the law bar as there are legal implications not only for the business, but as much with your insurer in providing you with any protection coverage if something does occur where a customer either "does not know" or "is not being truthful" in being Covid-19 positive and signs the waiver. I have seen a legal term brought up in another discussion here about a 'proximity clause' in your policy, and I would highly recommend to contact your insurer if you are not sure if you and your business will be covered if an outbreak is traced back to your for-hire fishing operation. I would highly keep in mind 'legal ramifications' if you become the operation that does not follow the guidelines provided by the Governor of this state.
To get back to another question I keep being asked about the "when do you think," and I would not have any idea nor will I suggest and give anyone false hope or improper opening date information for the lifting of the non-essential worker notification for for-hire fishing. It would be best to keep an eye on the restaurant/bar hospitality industry in when they are allowed to open, and so far there is no light at the end of the tunnel for this critical business segment of the economy to open. At this time I do hope that party and charter operators have taken steps to have at a minimum 'surgical-type' masks onboard their vessel in case this is one of the provisions for the for-hire industry when they can go fishing with customers onboard. As much vessel operators should do their due diligence in using best practices in:
Cleaning = soap & water, plus
Sanitizing = bleaching and/or alcohol
On the appropriate areas and common surfaces upon their vessel.
I understand how stressful this have been from everyone at this time, but I want to give a little 'big picture perspective' here as an example as I heard this morning that Ticketmaster and Live Nation with more than 50,000 concerts, festivals and other large communal gathering events for 2020 is now planning to refund (no doubt from complaints from those who bought tickets to their DC representatives) of returning and what could be a few billion dollars in pre-ticket sales, and I hope you comprehend how large the impact to the US economy this will also be to other related food sales, clothing, hotel room bookings and so many other facets that are required in putting together concerts and associated related events.
In closing, Executive Director of the NY RFHFA Captain Joe as well as Captain Jimmy of the JAMES JOSEPH have been working over the past weeks in informing our legislators on the negative economic impact to the fishing industry here on Long Island, and I have gone as far as I can with the fishery and economic issues at this time. The next step is up to you on how you can get through this. Once again and please understand that any monetary relief will most likely have a lag time of a few weeks to more than a few months and that the NY RFHFA is providing the resources and thoughts to at a minimum, safely as best get through this shutdown of for-hire businesses and those who work on party & charter vessels in this state.
If one has to think more than a few moments in what is more critical with what we know at this time, you and your families health in contrast to your business being viable as in being in business, I will leave that up to all of you to decide. For myself, I think back to 9/11 and those in the NYPD, NYFD and other workers who were there on the World Trade Center pile or at the SI dump over those late summer, fall and winter months and the health related problems and the tragic and premature passing of all to many....and I hope you understand about the teachable moments during our lives.
Any questions, thoughts, comments, corrections and or unhinged rants, let-em go at this point.
Steve EC Newellman