Washington State, first in the nation to close down recreational angling to combat coronavirus

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced its decision to temporarily close recreational fishing and shellfishing statewide on in the wake of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s order directing Washingtonians to stay home and stay healthy to limit the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19.

The closures began at midnight Wednesday, March 25 and last until at least 5 p.m. on April 8, 2020. WDFW will re-evaluate on April 6 whether the closure may need to be extended.

“This is not a decision we take lightly, but it’s the right thing to do for the health and well-being of Washington’s families,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. “Monday’s extraordinary order for the residents of our state to stay home requires all of us to work together to ensure these measures have the intended effect.”

John Kruse, the host of Northwest Outdoors Radio on KPQ, spoke with Dir. Susewind at length about the decision and you can hear his interview that airs on the April 4th segment of the program at this link https://clicktime.cloud.postoffice.net/clicktime.php?U=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.podbean.com%2Feu%2Fpb-nvwn2-d76ecb&E=dbernstein%40cherrycreekmedia.com&X=XID575ycAXVX9199Xd1&T=6PAS&HV=U,E,X,T&H=f743cd1cd8753e94517d80ce34d071474cd15565

In addition, many salmon and steelhead fisheries require regular monitoring under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which includes conducting angler interviews at access sites surrounding the state’s marine waters. The on-site, face-to-face nature of angler interviews puts people at potential risk of transmitting the coronavirus. Without such monitoring, these recreational fisheries must close to ensure ESA protections.

WDFW and other state agencies previously closed all of their water access sites, including boat launches, and other public lands where people may gather. Local and tribal governments are taking similar actions across Washington.

WDFW Enforcement officers remain on duty and will be enforcing these new closures.

The lowland lakes opening day for trout remains scheduled for April 25, but will be evaluated depending on whether the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order might be further extended.

For the latest updates on WDFW’s coronavirus response, please visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/covid-19-updates. Updates to openings and closures will be posted to that page. For the latest information on the statewide response to this pandemic, visit https://coronavirus.wa.gov/.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

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