LEWISTON — U.S. Rep Jared Golden (D-Maine) has asked the Coast Guard and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to drop the mask requirements for commercial fishing vessels, according to a statement from Golden’s office last week.
“I write in response to feedback from Maine fishermen who report that the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is enforcing a mask mandate on commercial fishermen that applies at all times when they are onboard a fishing vessel,” he wrote. “While I understand the importance of masking for COVID-19 mitigation, I respectfully urge your agencies to collaborate to update masking requirements for commercial fishermen.”
Golden said he’s heard from fishermen who say they’ve been stopped by the Coast Guard for violating the mask requirements and he wanted to see the guidance updated so it does not apply to small commercial fishing vessels.
The CDC currently requires masks on “public modes of transportation,” including “public maritime vessels, including ferries.” The CDC and USCG, according to Golden, have interpreted that to include commercial fishing vessels, even though those boats are not open to the public.
“Since the start of the pandemic, many in the fishing industry quarantined together to keep crews and families safe,” said Ginny Olsen, a Stonington lobsterman and executive board member of the Maine Lobstering Union. “Fishermen see their crew more time than their family some days, and for the Coast Guard to disrupt their work like this is extremely unfair.”