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Charter captains free to take customers fishing, with new safety measures

Charter captains in Michigan were clear to resume activities beginning May 7, but under new safety measures.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — The economic impact of tourism generated by charter fishing can surpass $25 million in a good year. Charter operators in the state were given the green light to resume operations for the 2020 fishing season May 7.

"A nervous excitement," said Jason Phelps, President Chinook Pier Sportsfishing in Grand Haven.

The 16 charter boats that operate from Chinook Pier should begin filling the dock next week.

Phelps expects some will make their first trip of the season with paid customers next weekend.

RELATED: Coronavirus updates, May 8: Cases exceed 46,000; Daily death count drops to 50

Charter fishing is allowed to resume but not without feeling the effects of COVID-19. The all-clear from the state comes with new requirements for captains.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources released the following requirements.

Prohibit gatherings of any size in which people cannot maintain six feet of distance from one another.

 "Some charters you might see two people, some three, some four, some guys have some large boats and can meet standards and run five or six people," Phelps said. 

The unknown right now for charter captains remains what demand there will be from customers.

"It won't be a typical year, there are going to be challenges," Phelps said. "This year it's just going to be dealing with the COVID issue."

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