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Sport Fishing Is Back In New Jersey, But Be Prepared For Social Distancing Guidelines On Boats

POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Gatherings of up to 25 people are allowed outdoors in New Jersey, including for sport fishing.

But as CBS2's John Elliott reported Monday, some say salvaging the season will likely be impossible.

"Since this whole thing has started, this pandemic has started, we've been shut down for 25% of our season so far. I'm out almost $100,000," Capt. Dave Riback said.

Riback has been in the sport fishing industry for over 30 years. In fact, like many, he started in high school. He said he has weathered many storms, but he's never seen anything like coronavirus pandemic.

"The only thing that comes close in terms of work stoppage and loss of revenue is Hurricane Sandy, but with that you had a light at the end of the tunnel. It was bad for two to three weeks, then it quickly rebounded," Riback said.


To keep everybody on board safe, the business of baiting, casting, and catching will have to be done differently.

"We're trying to social distance, so as you can see we have this tape mark. This is where you're supposed to fish, in this area between these two rods, so this is your area," Riback said as he showed Elliott the safety precautions installed on his vessel. "Around the boat, this is the way we have it set up. If you pick this spot, this is your area. You don't leave this area."

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One is called the pulpit. Normally, it's a very popular spot on the boat as it heads out to those great fishing spots. But with the new social distancing guidelines, now you can only fit two.

"We're asking everybody to come down with a mask. We're telling people wear something like this; it's a neck gator. Works out great, it covers everything," Riback said.

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Elliott also saw the prep area, where they clean and process the fish. They can still do that, cut 'em up and fillet them for the customers. But speaking of food, he also saw the galley, where normally they would serve hot and cold food. That's closed. Thankfully, though, on the Queen Mary, the heads, or the bathrooms, are on the outside, so they're opened and just constantly cleaned.

Things are going to change in the cabin as well. Normally, you can fit 40-plus in there comfortably. With the new social distancing guidelines, only 16 will be able to stay inside.

When asked how this year is going to rank, Riback said, "It'll be the worst year ever."

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