South Florida Intercoastal

Captain's Chair: An Essential Industry amid COVID-19

By: MIASF Staff

Date posted: Mar 23, 2020 Mon

During this unprecedent moment in world history it is important to remember that we are all in this public health emergency together. There is no part of the globe that will be physically or financially untouched by COVID-19 but we must remain vigilant against this invisible enemy in our effort to safeguard our families, our loved ones, and the viability of our marine businesses now and when this pandemic is diminished.

Understanding the marine industry is directly tied and undeniably essential to the robust economy in South Florida, our local, state, and federal government agencies and elected officials continue to work diligently with MIASF to address pertinent issues in advance and as they arise.

MIASF is participating in County preparedness conference calls with local and regional business leaders, economic development organizations, and elected officials focusing on unintended activity that impacts all industries, as well as working directly with U.S. Customs and Border Protection regarding crew visa issues and vessels returning to the U.S. abiding by U.S. Coast Guard regulations. Whether it is visa protections and extensions for crew members or disseminating U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Information Bulletins, MIASF has been, and will remain, a reliable source of information and action.

Hundreds of services that the marine industry provides are essential to South Florida boatyards and marinas, and critical to the certifications that maritime schools provide for crew, as we truly are the yachting capital/hub of the United States. Marine services are essential to the vessels that remain here. No different than the transportation industry, our boatyards and marine businesses uphold the covenants that are required by insurance companies, as these vessels cannot merely be shut down. It is essential to crew and service personnel that they have access to the vessel on which they work in order to perform their duties.

Every service that brings value to the marine industry, including electricians, mechanics, plumbers, welders, and more, needs to remain accessible and available to displaced owners, captains, and crew, who will also shelter onboard these vessels and rely on all of us to be there.  Many, if not most, yards contain multiple acres, easily allowing for social distancing to be accomplished in outdoor spaces, and are employing recommended screening processes by stopping visitors, vendors, and employees at a centralized gate, asking specific travel questions, taking temperatures, and refusing facility access to those in question.

There are many informational resources available to individuals and businesses, including specific local and national COVID-19 websites that offer links to government programs that can help people stay afloat and businesses plan through these hardships. Visit the Broward County Office of Economic and Small Business Development at for more information.

I am encouraged by how decisive many of our leaders at all levels have been in trying to mitigate the spread of this dangerous illness in our communities, neighborhoods, businesses, and government offices by communicating the gravity of the threat and offering actions that we can all take. We all have a responsibility to adhere to social distancing guidelines, isolation when sick or experiencing symptoms, and personal hygiene.

Please know we are working expeditiously on all fronts and ask you to reach out to us if we can offer any assistance with a question or concern.

Above all, please stay safe and be well. We will get through this.