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Updated: June 11, 2020

Maine DMR issues reopening guidance for recreational boating industry

File photo / Laurie Schreiber Recreational boating is a big draw in Maine. The Department of Marine Resources this week issued COVID-19 checklists specific to recreational boater services.

As the state reopens its economy, land-based activities are not the only consideration.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources this week issued COVID-19 checklists specific to maritime service providers, including marinas, boatyards, marine manufacturers, and the charter boat industry, including guided saltwater fishing operations, sightseeing tours, day sailing vessels and sailing regattas.

The checklists are designed to be paired with general guidance provided by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.

In addition to standard practices like maintaining physical distance of 6 feet, marinas and boatyards are advised on topics such as reminding clients arriving by water from out of state clients that they must quarantine for 14 days before coming ashore or boarding another vessel, unless they are from New Hampshire or Vermont. 

Cleaning and disinfection include boat-specific items such throttles and kill switches. Marinas are asked to minimize customer face-to-face exposure as much as possible and schedule service and sales appointments by phone or email. 

They’re asked to consider customer boats as “hot spots,” often with high-touch surfaces and confined areas. The checklist recommends that cleaning and disinfection be performed after a boat is brought in for service and when returned, taken for a trial run, received via delivery truck or other service, or is a used  boat.

Given the confined spaces on boats, customers are asked to declutter them before service to minimize staff contact with items inside the boat. 

Congregating on docks should be avoided and employees and customers are encouraged to hand wash or sanitize after touching dock lines, dock cart handles, fuel pumps and hand railings. 

If customers use launch ramps, they should be reminded to maintain physical distancing during launching and hauling and only have their own crew handle lines. On the water, if boats are rafting up, they must comply with guidance from the governor’s office on gatherings and physical distancing.

For the full guidance document, click here.

In addition to universal requirements, charter and guided operations receive guidance specific to being on the water. For example, face coverings that become wet must be replaced with dry face coverings.

Guides are encouraged to use separate equipment for demonstrations; equipment provided for client use such as fishing rods, paddles and life jackets must be sanitized before and after use. 

On May 21, the Maine Marine Patrol issued standard safety guidelines such as life jacket use, as well as COVID-19 guidance. That included staying at least 6 feet from others on the water, on the boat and on land, avoiding groups of more than 10 people on recreational boats and avoiding use of boat ramps and docks while other people are on them.

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