Washington state anglers protest fishing ban amid coronavirus outbreak: 'Let us fish'

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Frustrated anglers in Washington protested by boat on a Seattle lake over the weekend, calling for the state to lift its ban on recreational fishing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“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.

Washington anglers protested by boat on a Seattle lake over the weekend, calling for the state to lift its ban on recreational fishing amid the coronavirus pandemic.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Washington anglers protested by boat on a Seattle lake over the weekend, calling for the state to lift its ban on recreational fishing amid the coronavirus pandemic.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

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.

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A protester reels in a fake fish near poles marking a six-foot social distance on a boat on Lake Union near Gas Works Park in Seattle on April 26. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A protester reels in a fake fish near poles marking a six-foot social distance on a boat on Lake Union near Gas Works Park in Seattle on April 26. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

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.

A protester hold a sign that reads "Boating is OK, but Not Fishing?" as he sits on a boat on Lake Union near Gas Works Park in Seattle on April 26. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A protester hold a sign that reads "Boating is OK, but Not Fishing?" as he sits on a boat on Lake Union near Gas Works Park in Seattle on April 26. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

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.

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Ray Kawabata holds a sign that reads "Please Let Us Fish" at Gas Works Park in Seattle on April 26, during a protest against Washington state's current ban on fishing due to stay-at-home orders implemented to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Ray Kawabata holds a sign that reads "Please Let Us Fish" at Gas Works Park in Seattle on April 26, during a protest against Washington state's current ban on fishing due to stay-at-home orders implemented to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

“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.”

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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.

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