“It’s disgusting” – rocketing fuel prices pose growing threat to charter industry
Rocketing fuel prices in the US are posing a growing threat to the recreational charter fishing industry.
Increases of up to 200% in the cost of diesel are prompting skippers to add fuel surcharges to the cost of charters, which will inevitably discourage customers and will reverberate through other hospitality businesses.
The pain at the pump will likely result in fewer charters, with a reduction in the number of long offshore trips.
Ryan Freese, President of the Ocean City Marlin Club in Maryland, said rising fuel prices have affected charter income even before the season gets fully underway. Most charter boats in the resort’s fleet are adding fuel surcharges to pass on some of the added cost to customers, he told The Dispatch newspaper.
“I think we will also see a big decline in tournament numbers,” he added. “We have already had boats decide to stay south this summer due to this madness. It’s sad.”
One of those adding a fuel surcharge is Captain Austin Ensor. “Charters cannot increase their prices by 200%, so the only thing they can do is increase as much as they can but make less money. Despite higher pricing, I am making less money per trip than last year. Fuel prices are hurting, if not slowly killing off professional charter captains.”
Captain Wade Lober agreed that the situation ‘might not be pretty’ this summer. “Fuel prices this year will be catastrophic for the sportfishing industry,” he predicted. “Some are saying we will be paying $10 a gallon by August.
Captain Frank Pettolina said that most boats in Ocean City were already introducing a fuel surcharge of more than $4 a gallon and that the outlook was bleak.. “At $6.70 per gallon for diesel, multiplied by 250 to 500 gallons per trip, it’s disgusting.”