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“Dozens” of boats gathered in Lake Union on Sunday to denounce the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) ban of all recreational fishing and shellfishing across the entire state during the COVID-19 outbreak, KIRO 7 reports.
The “Let Us Fish” rally took place one month after Gov. Jay Inslee issued a “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, requiring Washingtonians to stay at home unless out for an “essential activity” in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
Soon after, the WDFW temporarily banned all recreational fishing in the Evergreen State. The decision has struck a nerve in the angling community, The Colombian reports, because boaters can still take their craft out on the water — but cannot cast lines to fish.
Fishermen at the Sunday rally argued that social distancing is inherent to the sport itself. For others, the loss of their therapeutic outlet is taking a toll of its own, angler Sean Kiaer said.
Kiaer runs the nonprofit Northwest Fishing Partners, which takes first responders and military personnel with or at risk of PTSD and other stress-related illnesses out fishing.
“A lot of our members are actually in mental distress right now,” he told KOMO-TV. “They’re wanting to know when we can go fishing again.”
Despite the protests, those eager to get back out on the water must simply hang tight for the time being.
The WDFW has mandated that recreational fishing and shellfish harvesting activities be delayed until at least May 4, coinciding with Inslee’s extension of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order until that date, the department said in a statement.
Fox News' Michael Bartiromo contributed to this report.