The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has made the decision to temporarily close recreational fishing and shellfishing statewide.
The announcement came in response to Governor Jay Inslee's order directing Washingtonians to stay home and stay healthy to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The closures will begin at midnight Wednesday, March 25 and last until at least 5:00 pm on April 8. On April 6, the Department will reevaluate whether the closure needs 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," WDFW Director Kelly Susewind said. "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."
Fishery managers have reported that some anglers have been seen crowding banks as concerns over coronavirus have continued.
"We've seen an uptick in outdoor recreation at some locations in recent weeks as people have looked for ways to get outside," WDFW Fish Program Director Kelly Cunningham said. "We've had reports of crowded boat ramps and busy fishing on some rivers, which runs counter to the governor's direction to stay home and practice social distancing"
In addition, many salmon and steelhead fisheries require regular monitoring under the Endangered Species Act, which includes conducting angler interviews at access sites surrounding state waters. The face-to-face nature of these interviews puts people at potential risk for the virus. Without such monitoring, these recreational fisheries must close to ensure ESA protections.
WDFW Enforcement officers will remain on duty and will be enforcing the new closures.
For more information, visit the WDFW website HERE.