Fishing temporarily banned in Washington state over coronavirus and crowded docks

Recreational fishing is banned in Washington state from midnight Wednesday until at least 5 p.m. April 8 because of the novel coronavirus, says the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

It will re-evaluate on April 6 to see if the ban should be extended.

The announcement follows Gov. Jay Inslee’s order on Monday evening directing state residents to stay home and stay healthy to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“We’ve seen an uptick in outdoor recreation at some locations in recent weeks as people have looked for ways to get outside,” said Kelly Cunningham, the state agency’s fish program director.

“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,” he said.

In addition, state workers must conduct on-site interviews to comply with Endangered Species Act requirements for salmon and steelhead monitoring.

The interviews put people at potential risk of transmitting coronavirus.

State Fish and Wildlife and other state agencies have already closed boat launches and other public lands where people may gather.

State enforcement officers will be enforcing those closures and the ban on fishing.

Hunting season is now underway is not currently impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions in the state, but significant travel is not advised, said state officials.

Follow more of our reporting on Full coverage of coronavirus in Washington

See all 10 stories
Senior staff writer Annette Cary covers Hanford, energy, the environment, science and health for the Tri-City Herald. She’s been a news reporter for more than 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.