While England and Wales have now allowed anglers to return to the shores, and in certain cases small boat and kayak fishing, charter boat fishing is not permitted at present.
The vast majority of the charter boat owners have fallen between the cracks of the various UK Government financial assistance schemes and they may not survive if the authorities continue with their present policies.
It is not possible to simply rely on the authorities to produce workable, safe operating procedures for charter boat businesses, if for no other reason than they have no knowledge of how the charter business works. In order to get the boats back to sea charter business owners need to be proactive and carry out risk assessments and produce standard operating procedures that will ensure a safe fishing environment which meet the current guidelines. The documentation can then be forwarded to local MPs, MSPs and Welsh Assembly Members to show practical measures that will allow the businesses to reopen in a safe manner.
It is impracticable to expect angling governing bodies to carry out a generic assessment as every boat and business is different. If you think of the assessment in the same manner as a food business, every product requires a different risk assessment and the same applies to boats. A 7 metre single hull boat has far less operating space then a 15 metre catamaran.
One boat owner who has been proactive with this is Gethyn Owen of the Anglesey charter business GO Angling. Those of you that know Gethyn and have fished aboard My Way, one and two, will be aware that the customer is always his first consideration whether it is from a safety standpoint, feeding the crew or finding the best fishing available.
It will be no surprise to hear that he has produced an eight page document after research and consultation covering a proposed safe method of work. The documentation covers the full angling day from car parking, to boarding the vessel and operating areas for the anglers. Gethyn’s procedures include:
- touchless hand sanitising on boarding;
- additional sanitising materials;
- provision of masks and visors for those who don’t have there own;
- clear markings on the deck, rails and gunwales
- deep cleaning of the boat after each trip
Perhaps if every charter boat owner showed the same dedication and initiative to producing safe angling environment procedures the various Governments would look favourably on opening up these businesses which as of now they have neglected when it comes to financial support.
In the mean time anglers themselves may wish to consider paying forward for a future trip or trips to provide some measure of cost covering income for the boats.