SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - More unhappy than someone losing a fish off their line, the owners of a sport fishing business in Santa Barbara could not understand why the new COVID-19 relaxed rules last week did not allow them back to work.
After speaking out to the Board of Supervisors and contacting Public Health, swift action was taken just a few days later.
Jason and Jaime Diamond own the Coral Sea and Stardust Sport Fishing that launches from Sea Landing in Santa Barbara.
By Saturday they had booked trips and were off to the Channel Islands looking for a haul of fish with their avid customers.
All weekend they were booked solid.
The boats have gone through extensive review and changes to make everything work within the rules.
Jaime Diamond said, "At some point you have to advocate for yourself." She said they didn't want to wait for the County or State any more.
"We saw ways to reduce risk. We made those changes. We have new policies and procedures," she said.
Masks and face coverings are required from the moment someone arrives and gets into a spaced line. Masks are also available if a customer does not have one.
Every pen is cleaned when they sign in.
Buddies can be with their friends but not wander.
There's no gathering in the galley or common places.
So far, there's been no serious issues, and the people who love to fish have had successful days.
Between the two boats to work out the new rules, the total loss of passenger space is about 10.
When they are out fishing, there will be closer spacing, but she urges everyone to be safe and practical.
"They say over, or under and do a good lean," says someone when they bringing in a fish. At times the crew will pull down a mask "to give clear instructions," but Diamond says it comes right back on. "We are outside, we are on boats we are on some kind of constant state of movement."
Many other sport fishing operations have not been able to get all the protocols in place. That means the passengers have not only been from the local area but also Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.
Ryan Gunther a fisherman from Chino said, "it's our passion and puts a lot of food on the table too so to be one of the first landings to open up in Southern California is huge thing for sure."
He was with Dale Hackney, and they were glad to see some fishing starting up again. "How can they open when nobody else can? That's kind of fantastic, so at least we can get away from the house."
It is more than just a day trip for many on board. "Yes, it is recreation and it doesn't seem mandatory. But for some people they come weekly specifically to feed their family because it is cheaper to come out fishing with us and get as much fish as they do than to buy it at the market."
Watch for more details later today on KEYT NewsChannel 3, KCOY NewsChannel 12, and KKFX Fox 11.